Let’s not bury the Philadelphia Eagles just yet, even if we do revel in their sluggish start. I’m not much on guarantees or loud proclamations, but when it comes to Philadelphia’s playoff chances after a home loss to the Bears, I have this sneaking suspicion that the lifeline that is the upcoming Giants game will play a large role. I think their chances are better than the public is giving credit now. I think they have around a 25% chance, while in most quarters, trailing a playoff spot by 3 games at the halfway point (because of the tiebreakers to Atlanta and Chicago, and the 3 game Giants’ lead) would leave them with a chance approaching 5%.
The main reason I say they are not out of it is because of the game against New York in two weeks in the Meadowlands. I know they lost at home to the Giants earlier this year, but that is par for the course for this series. The home team in the Giants-Eagles series has a losing record since 1960 (52-53-1). Since Andy Reid became coach, the Eagles are 7-7 against the Giants in Philadelphia and 8-6 in New York. That earlier loss hurt, but this series shows that the Eagles have just as good a chance in two weeks.
It is not a big stretch to see a situation where the Giants travel across the country and lose at 7-1 San Francisco, and the Eagles win at home against the Cardinals. If the Eagles beat the Giants in the rematch, we are left with 6-4 New York and 5-5 Philadelphia.
Guess who would then nearly always win any tiebreaker between those two, whether on division record or conference record?
The Eagles. The Giants are 3-2 in the conference now, and 3-0 against the AFC. That Patriots win was exciting, but in the tiebreaker scheme, getting wins over Washington or Seattle would have been more important. New York lost in division to the Redskins, while the Eagles are 2-0 against Washington and Dallas.
Philadelphia does not have to go 10-6 to reach the playoffs, though if they got there, and it included the Giants win, they would almost certainly be in. They can still reach it at 9-7. Here’s how:
- Must beat the Giants;
- Have the Giants lose 4 out of 7 to the Packers, Saints, 49ers, Jets, Redskins and Cowboys (2x);
- Must win against Arizona at home and Seattle on the road, because these are conference games against weak opponents;
- Must win against Washington at home, as a division game likely to be key to hold off the Giants and Cowboys in the event of a tie;
- Win just 1 of 3 games against AFC East (New England, New York and Miami);
- Win the finale in Dallas;
- Have Dallas lose 2 other games between now and the week 17 showdown.
If the Eagles are in a three-way tie with Dallas and New York at 9-7, or a two way tie, they will win it most of the time, because of either the division tiebreaker, or the common games tiebreaker (Eagles were 0-2 against Atlanta and Chicago, who the others don’t play) or the conference tiebreaker.
The Giants have won close games this year; the Eagles have not. The simple rating system rating has the Eagles at +4.9 both because of their scoring margin and the schedule. The Giants are -0.1, because they have only outscored teams by 14 points this year, and have played the easy part of the schedule. I know the Eagles are these big frauds and Michael Vick has now become a horrible quarterback, but you could swing a few plays this year–a fumble here, a runner giving himself up there, a few yards on fourth down somewhere else–and these teams are in vastly different situations.
If the Eagles win in two weeks, they can negate all that, and rise from the ashes. I’m not guaranteeing it, but I’m not burying the Eagles just yet either.
[photo via Getty]