As we all know, the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles’ season is all but over as they have virtually no chance at making the playoffs. However, they are not yet mathematically eliminated.
So, just in case you’re an optimist on steroids, here is what you’d have to root for in order for the Eagles to achieve the impossible:
1. The Eagles need to win their remaining games, period.
One more loss might officially eliminate them (if that loss is accompanied by one more win from Detroit, Atlanta and/or Chicago).
2. The New York Giants would have to lose two more games.
This is highly possible since they will likely lose to Green Bay and at least one of their games with Dallas. This would mean both the Eagles and Giants would end up at 9-7, with the Eagles having the tie-breaker based on division record.
3. The Detroit Lions would have to lose three of their last five games.
As long as two of those three losses were to NFC opponents, that is. If the Eagles and Lions end up at 9-7, the first tie-breaker for them would be conference record. The best the Eagles can do is 7-5 in the NFC so we need the Lions to be 6-6 (in the conference).
The Lions are currently 5-4 in the NFC with three games remaining in the conference. Two of them are very “losable” to New Orleans and Green Bay. The Lions also have to face Oakland and San Diego so losing more than three games is possible.
Still, the odds start to get longer here.
*Note: If the Eagles and Lions ended up at 9-7 and had the same conference record, the next tie-breaker is the best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
Common opponents for these teams are Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta. However, the Bears played Chicago twice while the Eagles played Dallas twice. If you count both, the Eagles and Lions would both be 2-3 against common opponents.
After that, the tie-breakers get even more convoluted.
4. The Chicago Bears would have to lose four of their remaining five games.
Since the Eagles lost to the Bears already, if they both ended up at 9-7, the Bears would win the tie-breaker. Therefore, they need to finish no better than 8-8.
Their remaining schedule is favorable (Kansas City, @Denver, Seattle, @Green Bay, @Minnesota), but they now have to play without starting QB Jay Cutler. Therefore, none of these games will be “easy” for them.
With that said, I’d have to think that back-up QB Caleb Hanie can manage to win two of those games.
5. The Atlanta Falcons would have to lose four of their remaining five games.
Like the Bears, the Falcons own the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Eagles so they would have to finish no better than 8-8.
This is the one that is least likely to happen. Their schedule is just too soft and the Falcons are too good not to at least win two more games.
However, we won’t need the Falcons to do this as long as the other scenarios play out.
6. The Dallas Cowboys would have to lose three of their remaining five games.
Actually, if this happened along with the Giants losing two more games, the Eagles would win the division. One of their three losses would be to the Eagles, and assuming they split with the Giants, they would just need to lose to either Tampa Bay or Arizona.
This is somewhat possible but I’m still not holding my breath.
In summary, for the Eagles to make the playoffs, they need to accomplish No. 1 on that list first. Then, they would need to have one of the following combinations to happen:
To win the division, they need No. 2 and No. 6 to happen.
For a wild card spot, they would need have either No. 2 or No. 6 to happen, and then two out of the other three scenarios outlined in numbers three through five.
Got all that?
Impossible? Technically, no. Extremely improbable? Yes.
But, if you’re the optimist of optimists, you still have hope. Good luck with that!
**Author’s note: Much like Andy Reid when it comes to using LeSean McCoy, I had a brain fart. I edited this article to add in the scenario where Dallas loses. Can’t believe I forgot that the first time around!
Just need to be thorough!