Sunday’s debacle in New Orleans inspired little confidence that the Eagles can turn things around and earn a playoff berth. However, thanks to a weak NFC East and an overall jumbled NFC playoff picture, the playoffs remain a mathematical possibility for the Birds.
After watching what transpired on Sunday it feels silly to even say the words “Eagles” and “playoffs” in the same sentence, but we’ll continue to assess the playoff picture and the hopes of the season as long as they remain a possibility.
With that in mind, we’ll continue our look at key games that could have implications for the Birds’ playoff chances.
Despite the Eagles not playing on Thanksgiving, the slate of games on Thursday hold plenty of interest for Eagles fans that are keeping hope alive, so we’ll start there.
Chicago (7-3) at Detroit (4-6), 12:30 PM
Both the Bears and Lions helped the Eagles out in Week 11, with Chicago defeating the Vikings and Detroit taking down the Panthers. Now the Birds will look for more help from the Bears, as a win from the Lions would put another team into the already crowded playoff picture.
Washington (6-4) at Dallas (5-5), 4:30 PM
A divisional battle between two teams currently ahead of the Eagles, the importance of this one is clear. With the Eagles looking at two meetings with Washington, it might feel like a Redskins win would be the desirable outcome here. But that win would also move the needed number of wins to claim the division up a notch, whereas a Cowboys win would keep the division leader at just six wins, meaning an Eagles win over the Giants would move them back within a game of the division lead. As much as it hurts to say, a Cowboys win is likely the best outcome for the Birds in this one.
Atlanta (4-6) at New Orleans (9-1), 8:20 PM
The Falcons suffered a devastating loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, leaving them tied with the Eagles at 4-6. The Saints are the likely division winner in the South, and even if they were to somehow fail to win the division, the Birds have no hope of edging them out for a Wild Card spot. So we’ll hope the Saints keep it rolling and put the Falcons in a near-impossible situation.
While Thursday has plenty of important matchups for the Eagles, Sunday has a couple of big ones as well.
Seattle (5-5) at Carolina (6-4), 1 PM
With the Rams and Saints in firm control of the NFC West and South respectively, both these teams are looking to the Wild Card as a path into the postseason. Like the Redskins-Cowboys game, you could debate the better outcome for the Eagles in this one. On one hand, a Seahawks loss would leave them tied with the Eagles if the Birds can handle business against the Giants, while a win would put them a game ahead. On the other hand, Carolina getting a seventh win moves the goalposts for a Wild Card berth further away from the Eagles, and the Panthers hold a key head-to-head win over the Eagles. Regardless, one of the Birds’ key playoff competitors will be dealt a blow on Sunday.
Green Bay (4-5-1) at Minnesota (5-4-1), 8:20 PM
The Bears helped the Eagles out in a big way by beating the Vikings on Sunday night. Minnesota is right back in the prime-time spotlight in another game with huge playoff ramifications.
Each team having a tie complicates things, but if Green Bay can get a win on Sunday night and keep the Vikings at five wins that could be a huge boost for the Birds down the road.
If Sunday’s performance has pushed you to your breaking point or left you tempering you expectations, that’s completely understandable. But if you’re in the “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over” camp, then you’ll want to pay attention to the above games this week.
Obviously, all of this becomes moot if the Eagles can’t handle their own business, and it’s understandable if you’re not feeling confident that they can at this point. But the Eagles are looking at a stretch of winnable games and some of their main competitors for a playoff spot are facing challenges of their own. If you’re able to stomach remaining invested in this season and are keeping hope alive, you know what games to keep an eye on.