Eagles playoff implications from Sunday

The NFC playoff picture either got clearer or more confusing Sunday afternoon, depending on how you want to look at it.

But overall, the results went about just as well as the Eagles could have hoped as they prepared for their Sunday night matchup against the Cowboys.

Two losses figure to help the Birds as they aim for a playoff spot in the final month of the season.

Let's start with the Packers, who lost to the Lions, 7-3. Green Bay now sits at 8-5 with three tough games remaining: at New England, vs. the Giants and vs. the Bears.

If the Birds find themselves battling for a wild-card berth, they'd need to finish with a better record than Green Bay because the Packers would win the tiebreak on account of their Week 1 victory at the Linc.

To make matters worse for Green Bay, quarterback Aaron Rodgers left today's game in the second quarter with a concussion. It's his second concussion of the season.

The other loss that helps the Eagles is the Bears getting blown out by the Patriots, 36-7. Chicago falls back to 9-4, with Minnesota, the Jets and the Packers still on the schedule.

The Eagles' situation with Chicago is the same as it is with Green Bay. The Bears own the tiebreak on account of beating the Birds a couple weeks ago. So the Eagles would have to finish with a better overall record than the Bears to beat them out for a potential wild-card spot.

In other action, the Falcons improved to 11-2 with a 31-10 win over the Panthers and appear to be headed for the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC.

Atlanta still has to face the Saints in a couple weeks, but I believe the Falcons would get the tiebreak over New Orleans because of record against common opponents.

The Saints are in good shape at 10-3 after beating the Rams, 31-13. It's almost time to pencil them in for one of the wild-card spots, barring a complete collapse in the last three weeks.

And finally, Redskins-Bucs. Donovan McNabb led the 'Skins on an impressive 14-play, 69-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a Santana Moss 6-yard touchdown on fourth down.

The game appeared headed for overtime, but holder Hunter Smith couldn't handle the snap on the extra point, and the Bucs ended up with a 17-16 win.

That's not necessarily a good thing for the Eagles. The Redskins' season is virtually over as they sit at 5-8 with three games to go.

But the Bucs are back in the picture at 8-5.

So, if you give Atlanta the NFC South and take the NFC West out of the picture, we've got the following teams fighting for four playoff spots: the Saints (10-3), Bears (9-4), Eagles (8-4), Giants (8-4), Packers (8-5) and Bucs (8-5).

And if you're comfortable with penciling in the Saints into one of the wild-card spots, the other five teams are fighting it out for three spots.

I realize these are a lot of "what-if" scenarios, but just wanted to clear up where things stand right now.

The Eagles' focus is on gaining some ground with a win over the Cowboys tonight.

As always, join me for the game chat at 8:20.


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