For the Eagles, it's that time of the NFL season where things slow down. I'm talking about the bye week, of course.
I have to say, it's hard not to feel good about this team heading into the bye. They have seemed to really turn a corner. Nick Foles is playing well. Chip Kelly's offense is the real deal. The defense is the only unit in the league to hold their past seven opponents to 21 points or less. That's amazing. They're not a lock-down unit by any means, but they're able to keep the game in winning range. Special teams is looking solid with Donnie Jones punting the heck out of the ball. Damaris Johnson is off return duty and the team has brought Brad Smith into the fold.
This team is playing the ideal format I envisioned: a top offense and a "good enough" defense. It's been a winning recipe for them in recent weeks.
To add to all of this optimism is the fact the Eagles have the advantages that come with the bye week. In more detail...
• Obvious: rest! Players, coaches, and staff are tired. Week 12 is the last possible week that teams can have a bye. The season started out to a sprint with 3 games in 11 days. It's been back to normal since, but the team could use certainly use a breather at this point.
• Recovery. In the theme of rest is the extra time for injured players to recover. According to reports, defensive starters Mychal Kendricks and Bradley Fletcher are expected to be back after the bye. Those additions are significant, especially in the case of Fletcher. The defense has been holding its own without them. Najee Goode and Roc Carmichael have been admirable replacements in the short term, but it's ideal to be at full strength.
• Extra time to prepare for the Cardinals. Arizona (6-4) features a good defense led by none other than former Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Every win counts as the Eagles attempt to make a playoff run here down the stretch.
• Re-focus. It's been three straight weeks with a win. It's nice to see this team playing with confidence. Now's the chance to put their recent success in perspective before getting ahead of themselves.
• Here's a possible concern for some: The Eagles are hot. Will a break in action disrupt their "momentum"? I put that word in quotes because it's an interesting concept. Bill Barnwell of Grantland has discussed this theory at length. In short, momentum exists... until it doesn't. Chip Kelly says he believes in momentum, however: "Yeah, if we win the next week."
• Hey, it's a week off for the fans too. Time to sit back and relax this Sunday. Work on that school/house project you've been putting off. Or try catching the Giants-Cowboys game and root for a Cowboys loss that would put the Eagles that much closer to making the playoffs.
The true test will be to see how the Eagles perform when they return from their rest, but for now I think it's an advantageous situation for them.