Few questions remain about whether Chip Kelly and his up-tempo offense will translate from the college to pro level. He has proven that it will.
Kelly’s system is effective enough that even a quarterback change didn’t derail it. Nick Foles went down with a collarbone injury earlier this month, but Mark Sanchez has stepped in and filled the void.
The Eagles also have a versatile running attack behind last season’s NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy and newcomer Darren Sproles, spreading the field vertically as well as horizontally.
It should be no surprise that Kelly has his Philadelphia Eagles back in the playoff picture. Last year, he joined Barry Switzer as the only coaches since the merger to win a division title in his first season on an NFL coaching staff.
The 8-3 Eagles have a chance to separate themselves this week as they face the 8-3 Dallas Cowboys with first-place in the NFC East on the line.
But the Eagles aren’t making too much of it.
“The division race isn’t going to be settled probably until the last week of the season, so our sole focus is just playing against a really good Dallas team,” Kelly said. “We don’t talk about where this puts us anywhere because it really doesn’t matter because you don’t win the division after this week or you don’t lose the division after this week, either.
“You got to win as many games as you possibly can and pick your head up after that last game in December and hopefully it’s good enough. It’s the Dallas Cowboys. It’s the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s two 8-3 teams going against each other, so it should be a heck of a game.”
McCoy echoed that sentiment.
“It always comes down to the end,” McCoy said. “We don’t want to be the team that’s a game or two behind and we miss out on the playoffs. Every game we play, we always knew that the Dallas game would be big because they were winning once we were winning.”
The Eagles have several players with DFW ties who could impact the game.
Backup tight end James Casey, an Azle graduate, caught a 14-yard TD pass in the Eagles’ 43-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, and the Cowboys have struggled containing tight ends at times this season.
Also, former University of Texas linebacker and Dallas native Emmanuel Acho could return after leaving Sunday’s game with a groin injury. He has been limited the past two days in practice.
• Kelly on the play of QB Mark Sanchez: “Mark’s done a really nice job. He’s improved in every game and doing a good job directing our offense.”
• The Eagles have 38 sacks, the most in the NFC. The only NFL team with more is Buffalo (46).
• The Eagles have the fourth-best offense in football, averaging 411.8 yards a game (293.1 passing; 118.7 rushing).
• Darren Sproles is closing in on the Eagles’ record for single-season punt return yards. He has 448 yards so far and needs 20 more to have the fourth-most in team history, and 42 yards to have the third-most.
They said it
“It’s just a big circus. You know you’re in a circus when you’ve got to walk through a bar to get to the field.” — Eagles linebacker Trent Cole on AT&T Stadium, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Going into the game almost feels like you’re not going to be playing a football game because the stadium is almost like an entertainment facility. That kind of fits in with the Cowboys’ mantra. It’s not like a football organization. It’s more like an entertainment business.” — center Jason Kelce to The Philadelphia Inquirer
4-1 Eagles all-time record in games on Thanksgiving, their last being 2008. They’ve outscored their opponents by a score of 104-41.