The Philadelphia Eagles are playing with house money. Few people expected the team to be 8-5 in December, riding a wave of momentum toward the postseason. Regardless of what happens over the final three weeks and in the playoffs, Chip Kelly’s first season on the sideline has been a memorable run and wildly successful.
Having said that, it would be a shame to have come this far and not make the playoffs now, especially due to the way that would have to come about. In order for the Eagles to miss the tournament at this point, they will almost certainly have to lose to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17.
Talk about a nightmare scenario. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
|NFC East Standings|
|New York Giants||5-8||2-3||4-5||1L|
Sheil Kapadia of the blog Birds 24/7 reveals the nine remaining scenarios for crowning an NFC East champion. In five of them, the Eagles take the division. In three others, they lose to the Cowboys in the regular-season finale, which it says on the label can also induce severe nausea.
That still leaves one more potential scenario. If Philadelphia loses its next two games and Dallas wins its next two, the Eagles will have lost the East before they even play the Cowboys.
Thankfully, that’s extremely unlikely. The Birds are currently on a five-game winning streak, while the Cowboys appeared to be going into their regularly scheduled December nosedive with a 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night. It would take a major reversal of fortunes.
Those are just the scenarios within the division. Technically, Philadelphia could still sneak into the postseason as a Wild Card, but would need some help with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers ahead by one game. The Eagles requiring a Wild Card to get in assumes they lose in Week 17, which in turn means they would need either of those clubs to do no better than a 1-2 record down the stretch.
|NFC Wild Card Standings|
|San Francisco 49ers||9-4||6-3||3W|
That’s without looking at any tiebreakers. Eagles fans should probably just forget about the Wild Card, if any were thinking about it. The Birds are in first place, after all.
If Philadelphia finishes strong, it could avoid another potential worst-case scenario in the second round of the playoffs—assuming they were to advance. Thanks to their win over the Detroit Lions this past Sunday, the Eagles are slotted comfortably in the third seed for the time being. If the current arrangement were to hold, they would avoid drawing the Seattle Seahawks in round two.
Not that the Seahawks are unbeatable, and if both teams won another game, they would eventually meet anyway. Seattle is an extremely difficult place to play though, so let another team have the first crack at them.
Actually, if the Seahawks got knocked off and the Eagles advanced again, they would have home-field advantage in the NFC Championship. Wouldn’t that be something?
Seattle is 6-0 at home this season and hasn’t lost a game at CenturyLink Field since 2011. The fans there famously set a noise record this year for loudest outdoor sports stadium. Nobody wants to go there.
Of course, we’re building up to something bigger and bigger. Supposing the Eagles outlast Dallas to win the NFC East, then they advance through the playoffs and eventually survive Seattle in the conference final, then what?
The Philadelphia Eagles would find themselves in the Super Bowl. That, and winning the thing of course, is your best case scenario right there.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves a little bit? Maybe, but you’re crazy if you don’t think the Birds are at least a darkhorse to reach the big game. They have the third-ranked offense in the NFL and a defense that hasn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 21 points in a game since September. With a five-game winning streak, the Eagles officially are the hottest team in the NFL.