By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
For as much as it feels like the Eagles have been getting beat down this season, the team is actually still in pretty good shape in regards to the playoffs, especially after this week.
Sure, a bye week is almost always in favor of the team on bye getting a chance to heal, but the Eagles got a little help from the schedule this week.
The Eagles are not exactly in an ideal position in regards to the playoffs with a 5-4 schedule, but they find themselves tied for a the sixth-best record in the NFC following their bye and just 2.5 games out from the second first-round bye.
The Eagles are now focused on trying to go 12-4 with arguably the easiest part of their schedule set to end the season following match-ups with the Patriots and Seahawks – both Eagles home games.
The Eagles got what they were looking for this week with as many teams above them in the standings losing as possible.
Prior to this week, those team ahead of Philly were as shown:
NFC Teams Ahead of Eagles Entering Week 10
With the Cowboys and Vikings playing each other and the Packers playing the Panthers, two of those teams had to lose.
In the Eagles favor, were the 4-4 Steelers beating the Rams and the 1-7 Falcons beating the Saints.
On Monday night, the Seahawks will play the 49ers and another team ahead of the Eagles will take a loss (or a tie).
The standings ahead of the Eagles have thinned out.
NFC Teams Ahead of Eagles After Sunday Week 10
The Eagles hold the head-to-head tie breaker over the Packers, they have a match-up against the Seahawks in two weeks and the Vikings have the head-to-head over the Eagles.
As stated before, however, the Eagles schedule would seem to favor them more than many of the teams in the race with them as the teams tied or ahead of them have match-ups amongst themselves rather frequently to end their season.
Taking a look at the schedules of each team, the Eagles may have the easiest schedule of them all, particularly after the next two weeks.
Match-ups where two teams in the table play each other will be bolded, indicating one team losing must occur in the event a game doesn’t end in a tie, and games against playoff hopefuls will be underlined.
Remaining Schedule for NFC Teams With Winning Records
While three games is a lot to make up, there are 28 bolded games there. If the Eagles win out, that means 14 losses go to those eight teams that they are competing with. Those teams also have eight games against playoff hopefuls in the AFC.
Looking at the chart, the only team that would appear to have less difficult games than the Eagles are the Packers and the Vikings would seem to have an equally difficult schedule.
Another thing going in the Eagles favor could be the return of the Atlanta Falcons, whose defense appeared dominant in their match-up with the Saints this Sunday. The Falcons have four games remaining against these contending teams.
Other teams that may factor greatly into this are the emergence of the Bears, who play four of these teams, and the return of Matthew Stafford to the Lions, who play three of the teams. More importantly, each of those teams play against the Packers and Vikings – the two teams that would appear to have a schedule as easy or easier than the Eagles.
The schedule leaves the Eagles very much alive.
It is also important to keep in mind that the Eagles may still be able to get back Cre’Von LeBlanc (or Hassan Ridgeway/Corey Clement, depending on how their injuries heal) this season, and still bring back DeSean Jackson to make a push in the playoffs.
Looking just at Dallas, the Eagles winning out makes them the NFC East champions.
Both teams play New England, but while the Eagles get the Dolphins and Giants twice to go with Seattle, the Cowboys get the Bills, Lions and Bears to go with the Rams.
The Eagles may even have room to lose one or two games and be the divisional champions with the schedule the Cowboys have left to play.
In fact, the road to being the top seed in the NFC is very much still open, provided the Eagles win out, and they may be able to clinch a bye even with a loss on the season.
Getting a bye would be huge if the Eagles are counting on a DeSean Jackson return for the playoffs.
It wouldn’t be totally unreasonable, given the strength of schedule, for:
The 49ers to lose five and end up 11-5.
For the Packers to lose two and end 12-4.
The Seahawks to lose four and finish 10-6.
The Saints to lose four and finish 10-6.
The Panthers to lose two and finish 10-6
The Cowboys to lose two and finish 10-6.
The Rams to lose two and finish 10-6.
That would assume that every team that is not bolded or underlined is a win for the team, which is often times division opponents and the three teams highlighted earlier in this article.
If that happened and the Eagles won out, they would be the top seed with the head-to-head win giving them home field over the Packers.
That would result in a seeding that appears something like:
Seeding With Eagles Winning Out
One loss could also net the Eagles a first-round bye with the Eagles winding up 11-5, tied with the 49ers. That would come down to a tie-breaker.
The Eagles aren’t exactly in great shape in that category with the “best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference” tie-breaker being first up and all four of their losses coming against NFC opponents.
If that is tied, it would come down to the win-loss-tied percentage of each team against the Seahawks, Redskins, Packers and Falcons.
Minnesota would also be 11-5, but with the Packers winning their division, the Vikings would be relegated to the Wild Card and the fifth seed.
Seeding With Eagles Losing One
Of course, there are countless variations of things that could happen, but there is no scenario in which the Eagles winning out will not not win them the NFC East and at least a shot at a first-round bye.
The Eagles control their own destiny right now and they can’t let any other team get in the way of that.