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Eagles playoff scenarios: Philly can clinch versus Chicago on Sunday

Dec 17, 2013, 3:57 PM EDT


We’ve been fielding quite a few questions over the past 24 hours or so about the remaining playoff scenarios for the Philadelphia Eagles over the final two weeks of the season. So as a public service, here’s a quick, handy guide for the remaining possibilities, as there are only a few.

First and foremost, the Birds have been eliminated from wild card contention. That means there is only one road into the tournament, and that is through winning the NFC East.

The Eagles can clinch the division in Week 16 if:

They beat the Chicago Bears, and the Dallas Cowboys lose to Washington. Philadelphia is currently one up on Dallas in the standings, so if the aforementioned comes to pass, that would give the Birds a two-game lead with only one to play.

The Week 17 Eagles-Cowboys tilt in Dallas will be for the NFC East championship if:

Pretty much anything else happens. If the Cowboys win at Washington, the Eagles’ Sunday night matchup against the Bears becomes meaningless from anything other than a seeding standpoint. For the record, Chip Kelly already vowed to play the starters against Chicago regardless of the outcome in D.C.

The Eagles can be eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16 if:

They can’t be. Even if the Eagles lose and the Cowboys win, they will have identical 8-7 records. Week 17 automatically becomes a play-in game.

Not much to it, really, but you can see just how huge a favor the Packers did the Eagles by upsetting the Cowboys on Sunday. Had they won and gone on to beat Washington this week following the Birds’ loss to Minnesota, Philadelphia would’ve faced elimination against the Bears. Now even in a loss, the Eagles will live to see the final day of the regular season.

  1. The Evster - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    omg that was the most simple explanation ever

    • fan of the Evster - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      I agree.

  2. red2gold - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    A guaranteed 17 weeks of playoff relevance. Quite an accomplishment for Chip as he transitions this roster into his style of players. Even though he won’t win coach of the year, he has made the Eagles quickly relevant – and should have the rest of the NFC East scrambling for a counter response in the off-season.

  3. mattyb - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    But you left out the implications of being the 3 seed vs. the 4 seed. Playing at Seattle vs. anywhere else in the divisional round is a fairly important details

    • willh888 - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      hurts because if they won last week they’d be 1 game out of the 2nd seed.

    • Dan - Dec 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      I don’t think it is. If Seattle is so big and bad, you are going to have to play them in Seattle anyway. The Giants in the 08-09 season were big and bad, but the Eagles beat them. It comes down to playing good football. And I know the Eagles didn’t look good against Minnesota, but Matt Cassel was on. He hit a lot of deep balls that he probably shouldn’t of. But the Eagles had a bad game plan. Well, it wasn’t as bad as the penalties made it. But in the end, this year is a sunk cost. The years to get excited about are coming. Imagine this same offense with a real 2 receiver in Maclin.

  4. ochospantalones - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Also relevant are the playoff scenarios in which Sunday night’s game is of reduced importance for one or both teams.

    If the Cowboys beat the Racial Slurs, whether or not the Eagles beat the Bears would have no bearing on the NFC East race. The Eagles and Cowboys would be playing for the division title in Week 17 regardless.

    If the Packers beat the Steelers and the Lions lose to the Giants, whether or not the Bears beat the Eagles would have no bearing on the NFC North race. The Bears and Packers would be playing for the division title in Week 17 regardless.

    Now, neither of these outcomes make the Eagles-Bears game totally irrelevant, as playoff seeding is still at stake. The NFC East and NFC North winners will be the 3rd and 4th seeds, but it is not yet determined which division winner will take which seed. Your mileage may vary on how much you care about that. If the Eagles win their last two games, they will take the 3rd seed.

  5. Greg - Dec 17, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Does anyone actually think he is going to play his starters against the Bears if the Cowboys win? What would be the point given the injury risk?

    • Andrew Kulp - Dec 17, 2013 at 5:16 PM

      “meaningless from anything other than a seeding standpoint.”

      If the Bears beat the Eagles and go on to win the North, Chicago would have the higher seed.

      • Greg - Dec 17, 2013 at 5:30 PM

        Yeah, I think it makes more sense though to give your starters a bye week for a must-win game than play them in the hope of going in with a higher seed while weakening your chance of getting into the playoffs in the first place. But, you know, I am not an NFL head coach. Yet.

      • BenE. - Dec 17, 2013 at 10:47 PM

        And you never will be if you wouldn’t play your starters while jockeying for a playoff spot.

      • sfsu - Dec 17, 2013 at 11:32 PM

        Whereas BenE will be the next coach of the Detroit Lions, becoming the lead candidate because he can’t grasp the expected value of not-risking-injury vs. the expected value of the 3-seed in comparison to the 4-seed.

        Literally the only difference between 3 and 4 occurs if you lose to the Bears, and the Bears or Packers win out, AND the Bears/Packers win in a round 1 upset, which is almost definitely less likely than an injury occurring in week 16. But I’m sure BenE, master of NFL head-coaching and mathematical expectation, has calculated these scenarios accordingly.

  6. j. thom - Dec 17, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    it really does not matter concerning either one of these teams. they both are one and done after they fall on the football and win the nfc east.

  7. Jason Radcliff. - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    I’m less concerned with playoff seeding since neither Seattle (in the Wilson era) nor New Orleans (with Brees and Payton) have lost at home…ever?

    Six of one, half dozen of the other.

    Of course that’s looking past last year’s NFC Champs or a team with Cam Newton and the best D in the league.

    I’m not gonna be upset if we see a lot of Polk and Bryce Brown this weekend, DEFINITELY Brad Smith on punt returns.

  8. erzug - Dec 19, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Does anybody really think that Dallas (after last week’s collapse) will lose to Mike Shenanigan and the Deadskins – even with the better QB (IMO) Kirk Cousins?


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