Eagles control their playoff hopes in weak NFC East
PHILADELPHIA — They're not talking about firing Chip Kelly anymore.
The Philadelphia Eagles control their playoff hopes following their second straight win, 23-20 over Buffalo on Sunday. Despite a 6-7 record, they're tied for first place in a mediocre NFC East and would clinch the division by winning out.
It's quite a turnaround in two weeks.
After three straight losses to losing teams, including two blowouts, the Eagles were 4-7 and fans in Philadelphia had soured on Kelly. Some media and many fans wanted owner Jeffrey Lurie to pull the plug on Kelly in just his third season, even though he was 10-6 each of the first two years.
But a stunning 35-28 win at New England changed everything. A win over the Bills put them in the driver's seat in the East. The Eagles host the Washington Redskins (6-7) on Dec. 26 and finish at the New York Giants (5-7). Both games will have more playoff implications than this week's game against Arizona (11-2).
"I told those guys that sometimes they don't see in them what we see in them," Kelly said Monday. "I thought we had a really good football team and what we did in New England wasn't a surprise to us. We had great confidence in them as a group."
It's no coincidence the Eagles got back on the winning track when Sam Bradford returned after missing 2 1/2 games. Bradford has steadily improved since the start of the season. He has a better grasp of the offense and has shaken the rust after missing 1 1/2 seasons following two knee operations.
The Eagles are 6-2 in the last eight games Bradford has started and finished. He has five touchdown passes and only one interception in his last four games.
"To start the year the way we did and kind of dig ourselves in a hole, it was unlikely that we would be in this position this late in the year," Bradford said. "But for us to control our own destiny where we don't have to depend on anyone else, and if we take care of our business, we will end up where we want to be. I think that's all you can ask for."
Bradford is playing the final season of his rookie contract he signed after St. Louis drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010. Few fans wanted him to stay only a couple weeks ago. But Kelly's long-term plans include Bradford.
"We wouldn't have traded for him if we thought he was going to be here for a year," Kelly said.
Bradford and the rest of the offense still have a long way to go. They haven't been consistent for an entire game most of the season.
"There are some things that we can do better," Bradford said. "I think that we can perform at a higher level. Obviously, we are still not great out there."