Eagles Wake-Up Call: Playoff Scenarios

Now that we are officially into Week 14, it’s time to take a peek at some potential playoff scenarios.

Here’s what you need to know going into the final four games.

* The Eagles and Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East at 7-5. Below are their remaining schedules, starting with the Birds.

 
Opponent
Wins
Losses
Week 14vs. Detroit75
Week 15at Minnesota38 (1 tie)
Week 16vs. Chicago66
Week 17at Dallas75
TOTAL2324 (1 tie)

And Dallas:

 
Opponent
Wins
Losses
Week 14at Chicago66
Week 15vs. Green Bay56 (1 tie)
Week 16at Washington39
Week 17vs. Philadelphia75
TOTAL2126 (1 tie)

The Cowboys’ opponents have a .447 winning percentage through 12 weeks; the Eagles’ have a .489 winning percentage.

* The first division tiebreak is head-to-head record. The only way this comes in to play is if the Eagles enter Week 17 with a one-game lead over the Cowboys. For example, say the Eagles are 9-6 going into that game, and Dallas is 8-7. The Week 17 matchup would be for the division title. The Cowboys won the first meeting, so if they sweep the season series, they’ll own the tiebreak. If the Eagles enter the final week one game back, this tiebreak is meaningless.

* The second division tiebreak is division record. Right now, the Cowboys are 4-0 against NFC East opponents. The Eagles are 3-2. That means Dallas’ Week 16 matchup against Washington looms large. If the Cowboys win that game, they’ll clinch the tiebreak over the Eagles because they’ll have more division wins (at least five). In that scenario, the Eagles would have to enter Week 16 tied or ahead of the Cowboys to win the division. If Dallas beats Washington, and the Eagles enter Week 17 one game behind the Cowboys, the finale will be meaningless. Dallas will already have the division wrapped up.

* We won’t go into the third division tiebreak yet, but in case you’re curious, it’s win-loss percentage against common opponents.

* The wild card is not a lost cause. The second-place finisher in the NFC South (either the Panthers or Saints) figures to grab one spot. Both teams have nine wins. But the other wild-card spot is up for grabs. If the season ended today, the 49ers (8-4) would get it. But the Eagles/Cowboys (7-5), Cardinals (7-5), Bears (6-6) and Packers (5-6-1) are in the mix. The Lions (7-5) too if they fall out of first place in the NFC North.

* The firs tiebreak for the wild card is head-to-head record. So if the Eagles were to tie the Cardinals, they would get in. They’ll have a chance to win the tiebreak edge over the Bears with a Week 16 victory (and the Lions with a win this week). The second tiebreak is conference record. The Eagles are in pretty good shape there at 6-2.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Game review: Here are 10 observations on the Eagles’ offense.

Bruce Arians has sent tape of 15 plays to the league office to be reviewed.

Good news for Nick Foles: Chip Kelly says he’ll be the Eagles’ QB for the next 1,000 years.

Kelly’s focus on tight ends pays off, writes McManus.

Eagles-Cardinals, the day after: Five thoughts, game balls, snap counts and more.

T-Mac on the pick-less Nick.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com defends the Eagles’ clock management down the stretch:

There are advantages to not letting the play clock run all the way down to 1. If you let it run down to 1 on every play in clock killing mode, the defense knows exactly when to fire off the ball to stop your run game. If you mix it up, the defense has no idea when you’re going to snap it, which keeps them on their heels. One of the great advantages any offense in football has is knowing when the ball will be snapped, while the defense doesn’t. By telling the defense exactly when you’re snapping the ball, that’s a major equalizer. That may sound like “Football 101,” and it is.

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News provides his Day-After Dissection:

The Eagles lined up in two-tight end sets on 29 of their 73 (39.7 percent) offensive plays Sunday. The only game that they have used “12’’ personnel more was Oakland (30 of 57 plays). Nick Foles was 9-for-17 for 64 yards and two touchdowns out of two-tight end sets against the Cardinals. He was 12-for-17 for 173 yards and one touchdown with “11’’ personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end, 3 wide receivers). Just three of the nine receptions by tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek came out of two-tight sets. But two of those three went for touchdowns – Ertz’s six-yard scoring catch on the Eagles’ first possession, and Celek’s one-yard TD late in the second quarter.

COMING UP

We’ll talk to Billy Davis, Pat Shurmur, Nick Foles and others down at the NovaCare Complex.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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