Crazy as it sounds, the dream team still has a reasonable chance of making the NFL playoffs.
The Philadelphia Eagles would need to finish the season with two straight wins and get some help from division rivals Dallas and New York in order to qualify for the postseason, but it's hardly the Herculean task you might imagine. Since Philly would hold every tiebreaker if each of those teams finished 8-8, it would take four specific results in four specific games to win the division, beginning with two games this Saturday:
It could all be over for Philadelphia before Santa warms up his sleigh. If either the Eagles lose or the Giants win on Saturday, Philly's dream season is dead (for good this time). But if the above scenario happens, the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants would all have a chance to win the division in Week 17.
Of those three teams, only the Cowboys would control their own destiny. If Dallas defeats the Giants on New Year's Day, the Cowboys would win the division. If Dallas loses, however, a Philadelphia win at home against the Redskins would give the Eagles the NFC East title at 8-8.
Week 17: Philadelphia beats Washington. New York Giants defeat Dallas Cowboys.
Since we're talking in hypotheticals, let's go further through the looking glass. There's one key snag in this scenario for Philadelphia. Winning the division requires a Giants loss in Week 16 and a Giants win in Week 17. In this case, the Giants would only be in control of their Week 17 destiny if Philadelphia were to lose to Washington. In effect, a Philly win makes the Cowboys game meaningless for the Giants, since they'd lose the tiebreaker with the Eagles.
Why does this matter? Because if the Giants have nothing to play for, then beating a motivated Dallas team seems unlikely.
It gets worse for the Eagles. There's a solid chance that New York-Dallas would be flexed to Sunday night* in this scenario, meaning the result of the Philadelphia-Washington game would be known before kickoff. If the Giants see Philly win, their playoff hopes would be extinguished before the game begins, leaving little chance of beating Dallas with no playoff hopes on the line.
* The NFL likes to avoid this situation by having teams play Week 17 games at the same time. But unless there's a potential Tebow vs. Chiefs playoff battle to air for the final Sunday night game of the year, the options for NBC are slim.
Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Eagles playoff chances were on life support. The odds are better now, though still from likely. Then again, this is a team that has been left for dead since early October, and here we are, six days from Christmas with the possibility of a miracle on the horizon.
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