Zone Read: Eagles-Seahawks, the Day After

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY

There was a lot of talk about measuring sticks in the Eagles’ locker room Sunday evening. Questions regarding what the players learned about themselves during a windy afternoon at the Linc. Discussions on whether the team is capable of competing with the best of the best in the conference.

After a 24-14 loss to the Seahawks in which the offense looked completely outmatched, the Eagles are now 0-3 against NFC teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

The overall mood, though, was more upbeat than one might expect. As Russell Wilson knelt down to kill the clock in the fourth quarter, Connor Barwin walked around to his teammates and delivered fist-pounds and hugs. When Mark Sanchez returned to his locker after his press conference, Jordan Matthews greeted him a handshake.

Everyone seemed to share the same feeling.

“I don’t think that anybody in here feels that we can’t beat the Seattle Seahawks,” said center Jason Kelce. “I just think they were much better than we were today. And I think we feel the same way about Green Bay and about any team in the NFL. On any given day, you can win in this league. And it really comes down to us just continuing to improve each and every day.”

The Eagles currently sit at 9-4. There’s plenty to get to from the game, but the conversation today will likely focus on what the loss means and where the Birds stand in the playoff picture. So let’s tackle those topics first.

In the NFC East…

The Eagles control their own fate. They’re tied record-wise with Dallas at 9-4, but the Birds currently own the head-to-head tiebreak. Sunday’s game is obviously huge. The winner will have a one-game lead in the division. If the Eagles beat Dallas, they just need to win one of their final two games against Washington and the Giants to secure the NFC East.

If the Eagles lose to the Cowboys, they’ll need some help. Dallas has Indianapolis and Washington in the final two weeks. If it were to lose one of those two games, and the Eagles were to win their final two, the Birds would be in on account of owning the tiebreak (division record).

What about a bye…

This is highly unlikely after Sunday’s loss. Assuming the Packers beat the Falcons tonight, Green Bay (No. 2) and Arizona (No. 1) will own the top two records in the NFC at 10-3. Because both teams beat the Eagles, the Birds would lose any tiebreak. In other words, the Eagles would have to make up two games in three weeks on one of those teams.

And that’s not all. Even if Arizona falters, the Eagles would have to make up a game on the Seahawks in the final three weeks because Seattle now owns the tiebreak over them.

In other words, there is very little chance of a first-round bye.

Possible opponents…

If the season ended today, the Eagles would host the Lions in the first round and (with a hypothetical victory) travel to Lambeau in the divisional round (again, assuming a Packers win tonight).

There are currently six teams in the NFC with nine wins or more: Arizona, Green Bay, Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit and Dallas. But one of those teams won’t get in because there has to be an NFC South winner, and no NFC South team currently has more than five wins.

A great scenario for the Eagles would be for the Cardinals to win the NFC West, but finish as the two seed. That could potentially set up a home game against Detroit in the wild-card round and a trip to Arizona in the divisional round. Obviously, the Cardinals are a much better matchup than either the Packers or Seahawks on the road. The Eagles would love to avoid Green Bay or Seattle until the NFC championship game.

Obviously, there’s still plenty to be determined, but that’s where things stand going into the final three.