The Philadelphia Eagles are smack dab in the middle of three different playoff races: one for the division, one for a wild card, and one for a bye week, believe it or not. Yes, the Eagles still have a chance to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC and get a first-round bye.
With six weeks left in the regular season, much can happen. And to earn a bye, much needs to happen.
As things look right now, Seattle will be the top seed or at least in the top two. At 8-2, the Saints are currently the second seed. The NFC North leader is 6-4, just a half-game ahead of the Eagles.
Here’s how the Eagles can earn a first round playoff bye:
First things first…In all liklihood, they will need to win the rest of their games to finish 11-5. 10-6 won’t be good enough.
The Saints have six games left, all within the conference, four on the road and against some tough opponents. Their remaining schedule is @Atlanta, @Seattle, vs.Carolina, @St. Louis, @Carolina and vs.Tampa Bay.
New Orleans could conceivably lose three of those games (@Seattle, split with Carolina and lose one out of the other three). That would leave them at 11-5 as well.
If the above two things happened, the tie-breaker for seeding would come down to conference record. The Eagles would finish with a 10-2 conference record while the Saints would be 9-3.
Carolina is coming on strong but with a current 7-3 record, they would only need to drop two of their last six (if they split with the Saints, that’s one right there). They too would not have as good of a conference record as the Eagles.
What about the NFC North teams? No worries there, the Eagles control their fate over those guys and by winning their last five games they will have beaten Detroit and Chicago.
Voila! Eagles get the second seed and a bye week!
Though the odds of this happening are on the long side to say the least, it’s still a possibility.
More likely is that we will be sweating it out to either win the division for the third or fourth seed or really sweating it out for a wild card spot.
The Eagles control their own fate there as well because four of their final five games are against teams currently in the hunt for the playoffs themselves. This, by the way, will be an excellent test to see exactly just how good this Eagles team is.
If they want a shot at the postseason, they will likely need to win at least three of their last five.
A division championship will suffice, but hell, for now we might as well entertain the possibility of having a comfy week off during the wild card round of the playoffs, no matter how improbable it is.