As our own Mike Lacy put it yesterday, the Eagles loss 48-30 loss to the Vikings Sunday didn’t end the hope of the team making the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but rather made it a tougher road.
A Dallas Cowboys 37-36 loss to the Packers, after a fourth quarter collapse from Tony Romo, is always good news in Philadelphia; regardless of whether the Eagles are in a tight divisional battle with the Cowboys. The fact that the Eagles are in a dogfight (no pun intended) with the ‘Boys, make the loss all that much sweeter. Still, it makes you wonder; what if the Eagles were able to beat the Vikings?
Scenario One-If The Eagles Had Beaten The Vikings
Had the Eagles beaten the Vikings, a loss by the Cowboys next week against the Washington Redskins would have clinched the division. Chip Kelly could have rested the starters in that scenario (because the Eagles don’t play until 8:30), but given the Saints loss yesterday, they may have been in contention for the number two seed in the NFC, and home-field through the first two rounds of the playoffs. In all likely-hood, Chip would have played the starters through the Eagles-Bears game, in hopes of getting the number two seed.
If the Cowboys had won against the Redskins, an Eagles win over the Bears on Sunday Night Football would have been enough to clinch the division.
Again, all of this is hypothetical, because the Eagles couldn’t take care of the Vikings, in what was supposed to be a cupcake game.
Scenario Two-If The Eagles Win Next Sunday And The Cowboys Lose
A Cowboys loss to the Redskins, would give the Eagles a chance to clinch the division on Sunday night football against the Bears. A win against the Bears, coupled with a Cowboys loss in week 16, clinches the NFC East for the Eagles.
Scenario Three- If The Cowboys Win Next Sunday And The Eagles Lose
After week 15, the Eagles are 8-6, while the Cowboys are 7-7. That means that even if the Eagles lose next week and the Cowboys are able to get a win, the two both have an 8-7 record. The Cowboys would technically have the division lead because they beat the Eagles earlier this season, but that would be irrelevant, because the two teams play each other week 17. In that case, whoever wins week 17, would win the division.
Scenario Four-If Both Teams Win Or Both Teams Lose In Week 16
The final scenario is actually two scenarios that have the same outcome.
If both teams lose, then the Eagles will be 8-7 and the Cowboys will be 7-8. Since the two play week 17, an Eagles win in week 17 would give the ‘birds a two game division lead over the Cowboys, and a division title.
If the Cowboys and Eagles both win in week 16, the Eagles will be 9-6, while the Cowboys will improve to 8-7. Again, the week 17 showdown between the two, would determine who wins the division. An Eagles week 17 win would give them a 10-6 record, while dropping the Cowboys to 9-7, and clinching the NFC East title. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles in the week 17 showdown, both teams would finish at 8-8 and the Cowboys would win the division, because they would have a 2-0 record against the Eagles, and head-to-head record is the first tie-breaker.
Back Out Of The Hypothetical World And Into To Real Life
In a perfect world, the Cowboys would fall to the Redskins next week, and the Eagles would beat the Bears to clinch the division (scenario two). The idea of going to Jerryworld (where the Cowboys are 5-2 this year) in a win-or-go-home environment, is intriguing, but scary. A loss would end the Eagles season. So finishing it next week might not be as fun as a week 17 beatdown of the Cowboys to go to the playoffs, but it would guarantee the playoffs, which is more important than trying to embarrass the Cowboys.
I guess I might just be too cautious; remember what happened last time the Eagles played the Cowboys in week 17 with the playoffs on the line?