Eagles playoff scenarios

Andy Reid and the Eagles need to win at least five of six down the stretch for a shot at the playoffs. (Julio Cortez/AP)

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all the MTC readers out there. Hope everyone is enjoying the day with friends, family, food, and of course, football.

While I know many of you are not allowing yourselves to think playoffs with this team, it's worth at least exploring what it would take for this team to get to the postseason.

Let's start with the division. Here's how things size up. The final column is strength of schedule, courtesy of Football Outsiders:

  Record Division Record Schedule Strength
Cowboys 6-4 2-1 15
Giants 6-4 1-2 2
Eagles 4-6 3-1 11

The Eagles are two games back with six to play. Do they need to win out? It depends on what the Giants and Cowboys do. If either of them go 5-1 or 6-0, the Eagles have no shot. If they go 4-2, the Eagles would have to finish 6-0 to have a shot.

But if they go 3-3 or worse, which is possible, the Eagles could get by with one loss in the final six, as long as that loss is not to the Cowboys or Redskins.

The Eagles are actually in a pretty good position to win the tiebreak over Dallas and New York. The first tiebreak is head-to-head. Again, assuming the Eagles' one loss is not to the Cowboys (the two teams square off on Christmas Eve in Dallas), they would win that one.

The Eagles are also in position to control their own destiny in the tiebreak against the Giants. The two teams split their head-to-head matchups, but if the Eagles beat the Redskins and Cowboys, they would own a 5-1 division record, which would be the difference. The Giants have the second-most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL, per Football Outsiders: at New Orleans, vs. Green Bay, at Dallas, vs. Washington, at Jets, vs. Dallas.

The Cowboys' strength of schedule ranks 15th: vs. the Dolphins, at Arizona, vs. the Giants, at Tampa, vs. the Eagles, at the Giants.

Bodog recently released this week's Super Bowl odds. The Cowboys are 16/1; the Eagles are 30/1; and the Giants are 40/1.

As for the wild card, things get a little more dicey. Let's assume the current division leaders hold (Dallas, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco). There are seven other teams with a 4-6 record or better, all potentially battling for two wild-card spots.

Team Record Strength of Schedule
Lions 7-3 8
Bears 7-3 27
Giants 6-4 2
Falcons 6-4 20
Eagles 4-6 11
Bucs 4-6 21
Seahawks 4-6 24

The Eagles are three games behind the Lions and Bears, and two games behind the Falcons. To make matters more complicated, Chicago and Atlanta both would own the tiebreak over the Eagles since they won the head-to-head matchup.

In other words, the path to the postseason through a wild-card berth would be more difficult than an NFC East title. The Eagles would have to leap three of the four teams currently ahead of them. The Bears are without Jay Cutler, but they have the most favorable schedule among the group.

Eagles fans should put their support behind Green Bay in today's Thanksgiving Day matchup.

And I mentioned the Giants and Falcons scenarios above.

So that's where the Birds stand entering the final six weeks of the season. It's amazing how much better things would be looking if the Eagles had held on against either Arizona, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco or Chicago. Instead, they need help the rest of the way and almost definitely need to win at least five of six down the stretch. Not an easy task for a team that's won back-to-back games just once this season.

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