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Four Reasons Why Eagles Will Make Playoffs, Four Reasons Why They Will Not

The Eagles are still not above. 500, but the rest of the schedule looks easy enough, but is it?
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With six games to play, the Eagles are the ninth seed in the playoff chase.

To get in, they have to be in the top seven.

Ahead of them are the 49ers (5-5), who have won three of their last four, like the Eagles have done as well.

The seventh seed is the New Orleans Saints (5-5), who the Eagles just thumped 40-29 after holding a 33-7 lead, and the sixth seed is the Minnesota Vikings (5-5).

There will be some movement this weekend, especially since the Vikings will play the 49ers in San Francisco.

The Eagles missed the playoffs last year, ending a run of three straight postseason berths, one of which of course, led to a Super Bowl title.

Do they have what it takes to return to the postseason and, in the process, give vital postseason experience to a team of young players, such as Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith?

Four reasons the Eagles will make the playoffs:

Offensive line. It always starts there with this team, doesn’t it? This group is simply one of the best in the league, if not the best, particularly in the run game. The unit has been healthy and together for the past five weeks and that cohesion has helped communication and performance.

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Brandon Brooks may eventually return from a pec injury, but Jack Driscoll has played well in his absence and rookie Landon Dickerson, while still needing to improve on some aspects of his game, has been a physical force, especially paired next to that freak of nature, Jordan Mailata.

Jalen Hurts. His will to win is clear to see. His progress isn't quite as easy to see, but the quarterback has gotten better incrementally as the season has gone on.

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Identity. They have it. Running the ball is part of it, yes, but their newfound physicality is a bigger part of it. Again, the offensive line gets credit for this, but so does linebaker T.J. Edwards who was plugged into the middle and has become a physical presence.

Schedule. When the schedule came out last spring it was easy to see these final six games were ones they could win. Provided, of course, the Eagles were playing better in November than they were in September and October when the schedule was much more challenging.

Lo and behold, the Eagles are playing better since leaving Las Vegas at 2-5. They are 3-1 since then, and the NFC is wide open. It helps to have tiebreakers with New Orleans, Carolina, and Atlanta, too.

Four reasons the Eagles won’t make the playoffs:

Inconsistency. It took the Eagles until Week 11 to win two in a row. They are still a sub-.500 team that must be consistent over the final six games to earn their way to the tournament. They probably don’t have to win out to get in, but they need to go 4-2 at the minimum to get to nine wins. That would probably be enough. But they are a relatively young team, and inconsistencies can plague young teams.

We will see if this young team has grown these last four or five months together up and is ready to put the inconsistency that smothered them early on behind them.

San Francisco. The Eagles aren't the only team playing better. So are the 49ers. Philly's loss in Week 2 could be haunting since San Fran is in the wild card mix as well. So, while everybody makes a big deal of holding tiebreakers over some teams, not losing 17-11 would have helped immensely.

Injuries. This one is obviously arbitrary because they can strike at any time. The Eagles have so far, for the first time in many years, avoided big ones. It's not promising, however, the knee injuries to linebacker Davion Taylor and back Jordan Howard struck last week and could cost them some games.

Those two players have become big pieces on defense and offense, respectively. Any more, and, well...not good.

The schedule. Yeah, it doesn’t look terribly difficult, but it is very hard to sweep opponents that are so familiar with each other, like the Giants and Football Team, both of whom the Eagles have to play twice - with a quick turnaround between playing each other gain - over the final six weeks of the season.

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Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.