"[The playoffs] are never out of reach when you have your queen on the board and that's Andy Reid." -- Michael Vick on the Philadelphia Eagles chances of making the playoffs.
Queen on the board, or ace in the hole, or whatever it was that Michael Vick meant, the Philadelphia Eagles are done. Not like the first time they were done this year, after a listless effort against the New York Giants, or the second time, when a loss to San Francisco put Philly at an insurmountable 1-3. And this is totally unlike a few weeks ago when the Eagles were 1-4 going into their bye and were really, really finished. Nope, losing to the Chicago Bears to go to 3-5 on the season is it. Put a stake in the Eagles; they're done.
At least that'll be the popular theme this week. It follows Week 8's "the Eagles aren't as bad as you think," and Week 9's "the Eagles are favorites to win the NFC East" and has just as much chance of coming true as either of those prognostications. Philadelphia may be done. Or the team may figure out how to play for a full 60 minutes (instead of the 45 minutes it seems to favor) and go on a run to the playoffs.
Things don't look good for the latter. Philly is a full three games behind the NFC East-leading New York Giants and five teams -- Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and Tampa Bay -- are in better position to win the conference's two wild cards. Even finishing the year 7-1 may not be enough to guarantee a playoff spot. Two losses in the final eight games would make it nearly impossible.
The big picture view always makes it look more ominous, though. Break it down and an Eagles resurgence doesn't seem as inconceivable.
Here's the Giants remaining schedule: @SF, PHI, @NO, GB, @DAL, WAS, @NYJ, DAL. Other than the home game against the Redskins, there's no easy win on that slate.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, has games remaining with Arizona, Seattle, Miami and Washington. Next week, they face the Cardinals, a 2-6 team with a backup quarterback, while New York flies west to play the 7-1 San Francisco 49ers. If Philly wins and the Giants lose, the Eagles will play at New York the following week. Win there and in 13 days Philly could be one game off the division lead.
Then they host New England on Thanksgiving weekend. A loss there would be devastating and likely signal the end of Philadelphia's season, again and finally. Or is that "again and finally?"