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Will Sunday’s Eagles Game Even Matter By Kickoff?

Dec 16, 2011, 1:55 PM EDT

If the Cowboys win on Saturday night, and the Giants win at 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Eagles' will be eliminated from playoff contention before their 4:15 game against the New York Jets.

As you know, the Birds technically have a shot at sneaking into the postseason, though surely nobody is counting on it. However, if neither the Giants or Cowboys make it to nine wins, and the Eagles win out (there’s the kicker), they would win the NFC East at 8-8 by virtue of a 5-1 record in the division.

That scenario is highly improbable with New York and Dallas already sitting at 7-6, and three games left to play. Further complicating the matter is the fact that they go head to head one more time in the final game of the season, which means if they both win this week, the Eagles’ season is all but officially over. At that point, one of those two clubs can wind up with no fewer than the requisite nine.*

Dallas heads to Tampa Bay on Saturday night, and the Giants take on the Redskins at 1 p.m. on Sunday. By the time the coin toss is held at 4:15 at the Linc, there might not be a whole lot left to play for.

*If you’re wondering how a tie would factor in, 8-7-1 is still better than 8-8.

And while I’m completely confident both the Giants and Cowboys are capable of losing to just about anyone, both have very favorable match-ups this weekend.

Tampa is mired in an absolute free fall, having lost seven in a row. Their head coach is on the verge of being fired, and only the Colts and Rams have worse point differentials than the Bucs’ -138. It’s a road game for Dallas, but that seems to be their only disadvantage.

New York will have their hands full with a division rival, even if it is only Washington. The Skins actually defeated the Giants 28-14 all the way back in Week 1, and they’ve been a tough team to beat all season. The game is at the Meadowlands though, so the crowd is gonna be into it.

If somehow one or both of them lose, the Eagles’ chances only stand to improve. All three teams will be in action on Christmas Eve — the Giants get a difficult opponent in the Jets, while Philadelphia would control its own destiny to an extent versus the Cowboys.

But clearly the playoff picture might not devolve to that point. If the Cowboys and Giants take care of business this weekend, the Eagles’ Sunday afternoon game against the Jets could be utterly meaningless. Should that come to pass, who knows what kind of effort we will get, but that game could get real, real ugly.

Unless, of course, they are chasing the even more remote possibility of a wild card berth. A Lions win over the Raiders would also end their season, but that game doesn’t start until 4:05. The wild card is an even greater long shot anyway. Plenty of pieces still need to fall into place for the Eagles to have a legitimate chance at securing the sixth seed in the NFC.

As we’ve been saying for months, the Eagles’ best opportunity to get in lies in the division championship.

What’s going to happen? Rooting for a Christmas miracle, or eager to be put of your misery?