Because I had nothing better to do, I spent a half-hour doing the win/loss thing with the Eagles and other potential NFC wildcard rivals.
Begin with today's contenders:
The 6-3 teams are Tampa Bay, Washington and Atlanta. The 5-4 teams are Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and the Eagles. Either Chicago or Minnesota is likely to win its division, taking one team out of the equation. The rest will fight for the two wildcards.
I'm not going to bore you with the details, but I then played win/loss. Some of it was based on gut feelings, some on a personal calculation of future point spreads. It's obviously just a guess but, well, I was a little under-employed today and had some time.
Anyway, this is the result. We'll start with Chicago finishing 10-6 and winning its division. Then:
Which leaves the Eagles. They need to get past the Redskins or they cannot be considered for the final wildcard -- that's just how the system works, one time per division put into the tiebreaker at any given moment. If they could get to 10 wins by somehow sweeping the remaining division games -- including at the Giants -- they would have a chance to tiebreaker the Redskins out of the picture, believe it or not. That is assuming the Redskins lose to the Giants at home and the Eagles beat the Redskins in Landover, Md. That is a bunch of assuming. If that were to happen, though, and if the the Eagles and Redskins both had 10 wins, they would be 3-3 in the division and the Eagles then would move ahead based upon their record in common games. Then they would tiebreaker the Falcons out of the way because they beat them head to head. And then the Eagles would put the tooth under their pillow and wake up to find it replaced by a dollar.
Realistically, it is going to take 11 wins -- 6-1 to end the season -- and one of those 11 is going to have to be at Washington, which could knock the Redskins down to 10 wins.
The details clearly are for amusement purposes only (and, granted, I"m pretty easily amused). But the conclusion is fair. Eleven or bust.