Eagles Path to Postseason is Slim but Realistic

The Eagles are 4-9-1 and in last place in the NFC East after a 33-26 loss to yet still have an opportunity to win the NFL's worst division
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PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles are 4-9-1 and in last place in the NFC East after a 33-26 loss to Arizona yet still have an opportunity to win the NFL's worst division with two weeks left in the regular season.

The odds may seem steep unless you consider the competition.

The Washington Football Team leads the pack at 6-8 and certainly has the inside track at division supremacy but WFT starting quarterback Alex Smith is dealing with a calf strain and the team's offense looked more moribund than usual in a loss to Seattle with second-year QB Dwayne Haskins at the controls.

That loss kept everyone in the division viable with two weeks to go.

For Philadelphia to win the division it has to win out over the final two weeks at Dallas and home against the WFT, a feat that would raise the Eagles record to 6-9-1. Doug Pederson's team would need help from there, however.

Remember losses by the Cowboys (5-9) and WFT are baked in if the Eagles win out. Washington would also have to lose to Carolina this Sunday while the New York Giants (5-9) would have to lose one of their final two games either at 9-5 Baltimore this Sunday or against Dallas at MetLife Stadium in Week 17.

The biggest hurdles on paper would seem to be the Eagles winning two in a row against anybody because they've only won four games all season and the WFT losing to the 4-10 Panthers at FedEx Field on Sunday.

Philadelphia will be officially eliminated this week if it loses in Dallas or Washington tops the Panthers.

The Eagles could know before they even take the field against the Cowboys if they are eliminated because the WFT plays the Panthers at 1 p.m. and Eagles-Dallas kicks off at 4:25 p.m.

Since Jalen Hurts has entered the lineup for the Eagles, however, you can make a strong argument that Philadelphia has looked like the best team in the division, topping then top-seeded New Orleans before coming up a little short in a shootout against another playoff-hopeful team, the explosive Cardinals.

"I've never been around a season where with a team that has four or five wins and maybe six wins is going to win your division," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday. "I've never been a part of that. To sit here with two games to go and still everything right in front of us.

"Do we need help? Yeah, we need some help. But we control - when I talked to the guys this past week, it's we control sort of our destiny right now, and we've got to find a way to make it through these next couple of weeks."

The Eagles, of course, made late-season playoff runs in both 2018 and 2019 and if they found a way to top Arizona, they would have been in a solid position to finish things off this time around.

In 2018, the Eagles were 4-6 before winning five of their last six to earn a wildcard spot. From there they upset Chicago before falling in the divisional round at New Orleans.

Last season, the team was 5-7 before running the table against NFC East foes over the final month to win the division and earn a home playoff game which turned out to be a loss to Seattle when Carson Wentz was knocked out early with a concussion and replaced by 40-year-old backup Josh McCown.

The players still feel some hope, perhaps buoyed by the spark Hurts has given to the organization with his dual-threat capabilities.

"We (still) have a little light at the end of the tunnel," Defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We’re just hoping that somebody messes up next week and we go out and we do what we supposed to do and let it come down to that last game."

According to FiveThirtyEight.com, the Eagles have a 9 percent chance to make the playoffs today.

By Sunday if the Eagles top the Cowboys, Washington does lose to Carolina, and the Giants fall to Baltimore that number would spike to 55 percent with the Week 17 matchup against the WFT for all the marbles.

"It's going to be tough," Pederson said. "It's two division opponents, Dallas and Washington, and it's never easy with our division. As crazy as it sounds, (the slim path to the playoffs) gives the guys a little bit of hope moving forward here in the next couple of weeks."

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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