Philadelphia Eagles 2011 NFL Playoff Hopes: How Thanksgiving Games Affect Philly

Eddie Gentile, JrContributor IIINovember 24, 2011

Asante Samuel (22) and the gang may have to dig deep, but there is a lot to grateful for this season.
Asante Samuel (22) and the gang may have to dig deep, but there is a lot to grateful for this season.Rich Schultz/Getty Images

'Tis the season to be grateful, and even at 4-6, the Philadelphia Eagles are no exception to today's holiday.

While the Eagles enjoy turkey dinner with their loved ones and acquaintances, the players, coaches and front brass will no doubt have one eye on that pie Aunt So-and-So brought fresh from the bakery, and the other on the television, glued to the day's NFL action.

Though Philadelphia sits two games below .500, two of the three Thanksgiving day games have a direct impact on the Birds' playoff hopes.

At 12:30 EST, the Detroit Lions play host to the Green Bay Packers.

Although the Packers knocked the Eagles out of the playoffs a year ago and many Philadelphia fans may still hold a grudge, it would be in their best interest to root for Green Bay this turkey day.

Detroit, at 7-3, currently holds the NFC's top wild-card spot.

While a Lions loss to the Packers will move the Eagles a half-game closer to catching the Lions for one of the two coveted wild-card berths, a Green Bay win would also hand Detroit another conference loss, and the Eagles' and Lions' records against NFC opponents could prove vital.

The Eagles' inter-conference record currently sits at 3-5, while Detroit sports a 5-3 record within the NFC. A Lions loss moves their inter-conference record to 5-4.

Because Philadelphia and Detroit do not play one another this season, the two teams' inter-conference record would be used as a tiebreaker if that last NFC wild-card spot comes down to the Eagles or the Lions.The Thanksgiving matchup between Detroit and Green Bay could help the Birds should the Packers hand the Lions another conference loss. 

Later in the day, at 4:15 EST the Dallas Cowboys play host to the Miami Dolphins.

While every Eagles fan already has rooted interest in rooting heavily in the Dolphins favor, the shape of the NFC East leaves fans with extra incentive to cheer at every Cowboys misfortune.

Dallas currently sits atop the NFC East at 6-4. A loss on Thanksgiving would, of course, drop the Cowboys to just a game over .500 at 6-5.

Should the Eagles win their matchup against the Patriots on Sunday, the Eagles would then be just a game below .500 at 5-6.

If both the Eagles and Cowboys would then finish their season after Week 12 with the same record, a matchup scheduled between Dallas and Philadelphia on Christmas Eve would pit the divisional rivals against one another with just a game separating the two in the standings.

If the Eagles are then able to beat the Cowboys a second time, the two teams would share the same record.

The Eagles already have one win against the Cowboys, a 34-7 trouncing on Sunday Night Football in Week 8. With the aforementioned second win, Philadelphia would then own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas, thus moving the Birds ahead of the 'boys in the standings.

And if the Giants, with arguably the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, succumb to the their predicted season-end drop-off, that tiebreaker over Dallas just may be enough to crown the Eagles division champs. 

The above scenario is chalked full of ifs and shoulds, but with the Dream Team currently sitting at 4-6, any hope of a playoff berth gives fans a little extra something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.