The Eagles' Playoff Hopes are Shrinking, But Will Still Be There Even With Saints' Loss Next Week

The Eagles' Playoff Hopes are Shrinking, But Will Still Be There Even With Saints' Loss Next Week

NFL

The Eagles' Playoff Hopes are Shrinking, But Will Still Be There Even With Saints' Loss Next Week

Philadelphia Eagles may have finally recovered from their Super Bowl hangover. Maybe.

They have showed signs of getting their act together for the second half of the season, but they don’t seem doing it fast enough. Their loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night will make a playoff run improbable for Philadelphia.

If the Eagles want to reinsert themselves into the hunt, they probably need to win five of their next seven games while the Washington Redskins go 3-4 during that same span. There’s good news for the Eagles — they play Washington twice. The Eagles’ second-half schedule, however, is rough with road matchups against the New Orleans Saints in Week 11 and the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15.

Here’s what the Eagles have to do to get to 9-7 in a manner that makes them playoff relevant.

  1. Sweep the Redskins. This the best way to make up ground in the division while also taking the tiebreaker, and it’s going to be very difficult to catch them without that happening now.
  2. Win at Dallas in Week 14. This will also help with tiebreaker, and they may not be able to afford another division loss.
  3. Go at least 2-2 in the other four games, including at the Saints, vs. the Giants, at the Rams and vs. the Texans.

It starts with the upcoming road game against the Saints, the same team that just put up 51 points on the Cincinnati Bengals (5-4). A Philly win mixed with a Washington loss (to Houston) would go a long way to reinvigorating the Eagles and their playoff chances.

If they don’t beat the Saints — a likelihood — they would certainly slim their margin for error going forward. It would almost certainly mean they have to close at least 5-1 with no further division losses. And if there’s any team that needs margin for error this season, it’s the Eagles, who have been so inconsistent with the exception, perhaps, of their quarterback Carson Wentz.

Wentz has been the biggest factor in the Eagles’ success, and will be enormously influential if Philly can somehow pull off their improbable bid at a postseason berth. This season, Wentz’s touchdown percentage might be down from 7.5 in 2017 to 5.6 in 2018. However, his completion percentage (71 percent) is up along with his yards per attempt (8.0), his yards per game (306.9) and quarterback rating (108.5). And his interception percentage (1.1) is down.

The problem has been turnovers. Wentz may have just one interception, but he has seven fumbles in just seven games. The defense isn’t helping. In 2017, they forced 31 turnovers, but have just seven in 2018. They won’t turn it around unless the turnover differential flips (-6 this season after it was +11 last year).

That should be a focal point for the Eagles against the Saints, as Philly attempts to prevent a death knell in New Orleans. A loss to the Saints wouldn’t necessarily be the crushing blow, but it will likely send the Eagles adrift into playoff irrelevancy, and leaves them with no more mulligans to take.

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