- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Eagles' 24-14 loss clinched at least the No. 2 seed for the Bears, who now have a first-round bye. Had the Eagles won, the Bears would have needed to beat the Packers for that bye.
"The Eagles hurt us, they find a way to hurt us even when they don't play us," Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield said on Wednesday with a chuckle. "I definitely don't like the Eagles, even more so than I didn't like them two nights ago. I definitely was expecting them to win last night."
And of course, the Giants (9-6) need to beat the Redskins next Sunday and have the Bears beat the Packers (9-6) at Lambeau to clinch a playoff berth.
The Bears are still alive for the top seed in the NFC and home field throughout the NFC playoffs. But the Falcons (12-3) would need to lose to the Panthers (2-13) at home, which would be an unlikely upset. And that game will be played at 1 p.m. That means the Bears could have nothing to play for by their 4 p.m. game. Also, if Atlanta loses, Chicago would still need the Saints (11-4) to lose at home to Tampa Bay (9-6) in a 1 p.m. game to get the top seed. The Giants own the tiebreaker over Tampa based on best winning percentage in common games.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith has said he plans on playing his starters to win the game. One thing that works in the Giants' favor is Smith's desire to always beat Green Bay.
The first goal Smith famously set when he took over as Chicago head coach in 2004 was to beat the rival Packers every year.
"I think it does help you keep your focus of playing your best ball [by playing the rival Packers]," Smith told the Chicago Tribune before the Eagles' loss. "I think naturally you could let up a little bit if you weren't playing for anything. I am talking about if you had home field [in the playoffs] wrapped up or if there was nothing you could gain from that last game. I guess some teams could let that hold them back a little bit.
"But for us, there is just so much going on this week," Smith continued. "For us, it just seems like we have to play our best ball this week in Game 16. Number one, I mean, it's the Packers and the Bears. That in itself really makes you play your best ball.
"Right now, we plan on playing our guys."
The Giants certainly hope Lovie sticks to that.
3dEric D. Williams
2dMel Kiper Jr.