First Tennessee at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles look to extend their home winning streak to 10 games and reach 8-3 on the season. Then it's at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day with first place in the NFC East on the line and the entire country watching and, oh, this is the greatest week ahead for anyone who loves the Eagles.
How good is this football team? How do the Eagles handle the stretch run in Year 2 under head coach Chip Kelly? What can the leadership on a team that has lost some key players to injuries rely to the locker room about handling these moments and this pressure to maximize performance?
Are the Eagles a playoff team?
We're not going to know all of that in the span of the next seven days, but it's the kind of stretch during which the true identity of a team reveals itself. The Eagles know they can't continue to turn the ball over (a league-most 25 times) or keep making mistakes in the red zone (they rank 27th in the league in touchdown efficiency inside opponents' 20-yard lines) and win in late November and throughout December.
The issues for this football team are pretty much on the table. Nothing hidden here. The Eagles need to be more efficient on offense and minimize mistakes and win the line of scrimmage more consistently than they did against the powerful Packers. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has his second life in the NFL and has handled it capably in two and a half games. The defense took a step back in Green Bay against the best quarterback and most precise offense in the NFL, and it has a lot to prove in a bounce-back game against Tennessee and a five-game stretch run that starts at Dallas.
I can sit here and write that I have faith that the Eagles will correct their inconsistencies and ride strong to the finish of the regular season and into the playoffs, but that's just the faith and the confidence instilled. I believe in head coach Chip Kelly and in this team. What does that mean when it's time for kickoff on Sunday?
The truth is, my sense of anticipation and curiosity and excitement matches yours. I want to see what becomes of a team that, when it plays at its peak, is a Super Bowl contender.
Can the Eagles sustain the peak?
This coupling of games helps tell the story. Do the Eagles rebound emotionally from the loss at Green Bay? How quickly can they get their bodies and minds right for the NFC East showdown at Dallas?
Two games. Two stories. A season within the season that will go a long way toward shaping the identity of these 2014 Philadelphia Eagles.