While the nation spends its days this week traveling and cooking with friends and family, the NFL marches forward into the 12th week of its regular season. With three games being played on Thanksgiving Thursday, lots of eyes will be on the Patriots this Sunday when they go into Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.
The Eagles won a tight game against the divisional rival New York Giants this Sunday; and they did it without starting quarterback Michael Vick and starting receiver Jeremy Maclin. Vince Young started the game looking rusty, throwing three interceptions in the first three quarters.
In what was either a brilliantly choreographed drive or nearly nine minutes of dumb luck for the former Titans star, Young lead his offense 91 yards in 18 plays on their first possession of the 4th quarter. The drive resulted in an 8 yard touchdown pass to R. Cooper, putting the Eagles up 17-10 and the length of the drive left Manning and the Giants with just 2:45 left in the game. The Philadelphia defense looked the best they have all season, and they sealed the game with a Jason Babin sack that forced a Manning fumble that the Eagles recovered.
Andy Reid and the Eagles have still not said who will start at quarterback on Sunday, which serves them well as the Patriots will have to game plan for both Vick and Young in preparation. That's a tall order for any team, and the Patriots' defense still has a lot of kinks to work out despite their recent success.
Tom Brady addressed the media today as he does every Wednesday, only this time Belichick took the day off. As the lone representative voice of the team, he answered questions about the importance of this game, marking the start of the final post-Thanksgiving stretch of the season.
".... this is a very important game for us...We have a lot on the line. It's a very good team. They're skilled at every position" Brady said. "Going on the road and trying to win a really tough game on the road at the most important time of the year - that says a lot for what we're looking for as a team."
Obviously with the way the defense stepped up last week against a good Giants team, Brady will be looking to minimize mistakes and be aware of their playmakers. He'll be looking to have everyone firing on all cylinders. He emphasized how seriously he takes the daunting task of facing that defense on the road.
"They really have threats everywhere" he stressed. "They rush as good as anybody that we face. They have two of the best corners in the league that intercept passes. They force you to throw it quick and then they're on you quick.... I think we have to execute as well as we've executed all year in order to go out and try to win this game."
Brady made it clear that he is vigilant and resolute regarding their training this week, saying he is feeling great and ready to go out and play his best football. He also made it clear that despite winning the past two games, they need to keep playing better and that they'll have to do so this week to come away with a win.
"I think that we need to play really well, certainly better than we've played the last few weeks." Brady said. "There're a lot of people on our team and our offense that have really taken the challenge that our coaches have given us and are going to out there and try to play our best. I think we need to do that. This is the time of year when it's most important. There aren't a lot of games left. When you play a tough team, on the road, that came off one of the biggest wins of their season - we have everything we could ask for. We're going to go out there and try to play our best."
The QB also talked about the team kicking things into the next gear and continuing to learn to execute better on all levels, as they have been trying to do every week.
After another pointless first quarter in their game against the Chiefs, Brady knows they have to start getting off to a better start and forcing their will earlier in games against better competition. His tone was serious and it is clear he is concentrating on preparing himself and his teammates for a battle at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.