By Ed Benkin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You know it’s a good season when your team can clinch a division just after Thanksgiving.

Such is the case with the 2017 Eagles, who can wrap up the NFC East title as early as Thursday.  A win by Washington over Dallas in Thursday night action would clinch the crown for Doug Pederson’s squad.  The Eagles can also clinch with a win in Seattle on Sunday night.  The Eagles will be more than happy to take home their first division championship since 2013.

But there is more work to be done.

“It’s one of our goals to win the NFC East,” said Pederson.  “But the bigger message is you’re still playing and fighting for home field. You’re fighting for that first-round bye if possible. I mean, there’s a lot of things that you’re still playing for even though you’ve checked the box for your first goal.”

With the first goal set to be completed, the thought of the top seed and home field advantage for the playoffs is likely dancing in the heads of many of the players.  Even if the division title is wrapped up before the Eagles take the field in Seattle Sunday night,  Carson Wentz and his teammates intend to stick with the same approach which has worked all season.  The focus will be on improving each week even with a division title in their back pockets.

“You’re always trying to get better,” Wentz said.  “December is really what kind of separates teams down the stretch.  We go back in the film room and we break down all of the things we could have done better.  We always believe the best is still ahead of us.”

There has not been a repeat champion in the NFC East since 2004 when Andy Reid’s Super Bowl bound Eagles accomplished the feat.  In recent years, teams have hardly taken a division title for granted.  For Wentz and the rest of the 2017 Eagles, a division title will be appreciated but will hardly serve as the main goal for the end of the season.

“No one is ever settling for anything,” said Wentz.  “No one is ever complacent with where we’re at.  We’re always striving to get better.  That’s my approach and that’s really everybody else’s approach, too.”

Don’t expect the Eagles to be popping champagne on Thursday night if the Cowboys go down to defeat.  The Eagles are hoping their final goal will be reached the first weekend in February in Minnesota.  The division title may give Pederson a brief moment to reflect on how fast his team has risen to the top of the standings, but Pederson and his coaching staff will quickly move onto the next challenge.

“It’s great,” Pederson said.  “Love it, but the Eagles have also won a bunch of NFC East titles here, too.  We’re proud of it.  It’s a tribute obviously to the players, but there’s something bigger out there that we strive for.”

 

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