It’s not like the Philadelphia Eagles losing to the New England Patriots last week was a terrible or unexpected result.
But it continues to hurt the chances of a second NFC East team making the playoffs.
When we take a look at the weekly NFL playoff projection, which is our guess at how the playoff bracket will look when the regular season is finished, it’s really hard to squeeze the loser of the Dallas Cowboys-Eagles race into a wild-card spot:
Philadelphia is 5-5, and in a loaded NFC it’s hard to see them being so good down the stretch that they pass the Packers-Vikings NFC North loser or the 49ers-Seahawks NFC West loser for a wild-card spot. Though the schedule does line up for them to pile up wins (more on this in a moment).
The 6-4 Cowboys jump ahead of the Eagles in this week’s projection after a road win at the Lions and the Eagles’ home loss to the Patriots. But Dallas is far from out of the woods yet.
The Cowboys’ schedule is tougher going forward and the second meeting between the two NFC East contenders will be in Philadelphia:
Dallas remaining schedule
Week 12, at Patriots
Week 13, vs. Bills
Week 14, at Bears
Week 15, vs. Rams
Week 16, at Eagles
Week 17, vs. Redskins
Philadelphia remaining schedule
Week 12, vs. Seahawks
Week 13, at Dolphins
Week 14, vs. Giants
Week 15, at Redskins
Week 16, vs. Cowboys
Week 17, at Giants
If the Eagles beat the Seahawks at home this week, they can win out. The key game is obviously that Cowboys game in Week 16, but they’ll be at home. While it’s impossible to predict a team will win six in a row, if the Eagles pull it off there’s a very good chance they’ll own the tiebreaker against the Cowboys.
Blogging the Boys did a full rundown of the tiebreaker situation. Assuming the Eagles win the rematch (if the Cowboys win in Week 16, the Eagles’ chances of winning the NFC East are very slim) and both teams win all their remaining games against the woeful Giants and Redskins, the tiebreaker would come down to record against common opponents. If the Cowboys lose to the Patriots, Bills or Bears and the Eagles beat the Dolphins, the Eagles win that common opponents tiebreaker.
The NFC East race will be very interesting, because a talented second-place team could be squeezed out of the playoffs. And if Philadelphia beats Seattle on Sunday and the Cowboys lose at the Patriots, it gets really interesting.
Here are some other playoff projection observations after Week 11:
• The Raiders didn’t blow out the Bengals, but they won. Because the Raiders stayed afloat during the tough part of their schedule, they can make up some ground now. That’s why they still have the inside track for the final AFC wild-card spot, though the AFC South loser between the Texans and Colts will have a say in that. The Steelers’ loss at the Browns puts them in a tougher spot, and the Browns’ hopes of making a wild run at a playoff spot was dealt a serious blow with the Myles Garrett suspension.
• The Colts-Texans game on Thursday night clearly has the biggest playoff implication of Week 12. They’re tied for first place in the AFC South at 6-4. A win by the Colts would be huge, because it would secure the head-to-head tiebreaker. It would be tough for the Texans to pass them with only five games left.
• The Vikings, 49ers, Patriots and Chiefs all pulled out close wins last week, when a losses by any of them would have had some important ramifications in the playoff projection. That’s why the bracket stays mostly the same from last week’s projection.
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