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Eagles' playoff chances soaring after win

Eliot Shorr-Parks
December 04, 2018 - 8:15 am

The Eagles, following their 28-13 win over Washington on Monday night, are heating up at the right time — and their playoff chances are going up because of it. 

Following a win that improved their record to 6-6, and gave them their first winning streak of the season, the Eagles now have a 28% chance of making the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. That might not sound like much, but it is a 16-point improvement from the previous week. 

Why have the Eagles’ chances at postseason play improved so dramatically? They now seem to have two legitimate paths to January football — winning the NFC East and landing a Wild Card spot. 

NFC East: A division the Eagles were expected to run away with suddenly felt almost out of grasp last week when the Dallas Cowboys beat the New Orleans Saints. 

Now? The Eagles are 60-minutes away from sitting at the top of the division. 

With a win next Sunday in Dallas, the Eagles would improve their record to 7-6, and drop the Cowboys to the same record, 7-6. If the Eagles do win, the season series would be split 1-1, meaning things would move to the second tiebreaker — record in the NFC East. With a win next Sunday, the Eagles would move to 4-1 in the division, and hand the Cowboys their second loss in the division, meaning the Eagles would control first place. 

A loss, however, could make things very tricky for the Eagles considering the schedules both teams have,. 

If the Eagles were to lose to Dallas next Sunday, the Cowboys would not only improve to 8-5, but they would also have a season-sweep of the Eagles. That means the Eagles would have to finish with a better record to win the division. Considering the Cowboys would be at eight wins, and the Eagles still at six, the Eagles would have to basically win out, and hope the Cowboys only win one more game, to clinch the NFC East. With the Eagles heading to Los Angeles next after their game in Dallas, then a visit from the red-hot Houston Texans, winning out seems very unlikely.

Add everything up, and although anything is possible, if the Eagles plan on winning the NFC East for the second-straight season they absolutely must win in Dallas next Sunday. 

Wild Card: Should the Eagles lose in Dallas next Sunday, they will likely need to get into the postseason through a Wild Card spot -- something that seems much more realistic than it used to. 

The Eagles are realistically competing with two teams for a Wild Card spot -- the Minnesota Vikings and the Carolina Panthers. The Seattle Seahawks, with a much-easier remaining schedule, seem a lock to win one of the two Wild Card spots. 

Here is a look at the remaining schedules for the teams the Eagles are realistically competing with for a playoff spot -- but with my predictions for each game and an Eagles’ loss against Dallas. 

Cowboys (7-5) — Eagles (W), @ Colts (L), Buccaneers (W), @ Giants (W) = 10-6

Vikings (6-5-1) — @ Seahawks (L), Dolphins (W), @ Lions (W), Bears (W) = 9-6-1

Redskins (6-5) —  @ Eagles (L), Giants (L), @ Jaguars (W), @ Titans (L), Eagles (L) = 7-9

Seahawks (7-5) — Vikings (W), @49ers (W), @ Chiefs (L), Cardinals (W) = 10-6

Panthers (6-6) — @ Cleveland (L), Saints (L), Falcons (W), @ Saints (L) =7-9

Eagles (6-6) — @ Cowboys (L), @ Rams (L), Texans (W), @ Washington (W) = 8-8

If those predictions hold, the Cowboys would win the division at 10-6, with the Seahawks and Vikings clinching the final two Wild Card spots. A few things, however, are trending in the Eagles' favor.

First, the Panthers are collapsing, and have now lost four in a row. The chances of them making the playoffs at this point are plummeting. The Vikings are also not playing great, but their schedule is a wild card. The trip to Seattle is not easy. The key will be Week 17 against Chicago. If the Bears need that win, that is a tough spot for the Vikings. If the Bears are already settled in with the No. 3 seed, however, they could be resting their starters. 

The Eagles' most realistic path to the playoffs through the Wild Card spot seems to be this -- get to nine wins, hope the Panthers' continue their collapse and hope the Vikings split their final two games. That isn't extremely unrealistic. In fact, the most unlikely part might be the Eagles getting to nine wins. 

If the Eagles can win four of their final five games, however, their chances of getting into the playoffs -- either through the division or through Wild Card -- seem much higher than you would think. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at [email protected]!

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