According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Eagles have a .00002 percent shot at making the playoffs — so they're saying there's still a chance!
But how, you might ask? (Surely, there must be one of you.)
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At best, the Eagles can finish 8-8 this season, and, at best, that would only be tied for one of the top six records in the NFC. Five teams are already guaranteed to finish with at least nine wins, including a pair of division rivals, all of which means there is no scenario where the Eagles wind up in the playoffs purely by virtue of records.
The Eagles need help. Granted, more than most, but it's possible. They just need one or two things to shake their way. Or 10, as it were.
And there's no getting around ANY of these.
First and foremost, the Eagles must win all three of their remaining games: at Baltimore (7-6) on Sunday, then home against the Giants (9-4) the following Thursday and the Cowboys (11-1) in Week 17. The Giants and Cowboys have already beaten the Eagles once this season.
The Buccaneers must finish in first place in the NFC South. The Bucs are already to eight wins and own the tiebreaker over the Eagles for the second and final wild-card berth. That means Tampa Bay needs to win their division and leave that spot available.
The Falcons cannot win another game. It's not enough for the Bucs to win the South. Atlanta still can't add to their victory total over the final three contests. A W over either the 49ers (1-12) on Sunday, at Carolina (5-8) on Christmas Eve or against the Saints (5-8) in Week 17 will put them club at nine. In case you didn't notice, none of those opponents is above .500.
Steps 4 and 5
Neither Washington nor the Packers can win another game. Thanks to their tie, Washington would then finish no worse than 8-7-1, which is better than 8-8. With another victory, Green Bay could do no worse than .500 and owns the tiebreaker over the Eagles by virtue of head-to-head victory.
Washington finishes versus the Panthers (5-8), at Chicago (3-10) and versus the Giants (9-4). The Packers are at Chicago (3-10), home against the Vikings (7-6) and at Detroit (9-4).
The Vikings cannot win two more games. The Eagles do own the head-to-head tiebreaker, but two victories would get Minnesota to nine wins. Minnesota is home against the Colts (6-7) this week, then at Green Bay (7-6) and home against the Bears (3-10).
*To demonstrate how complex this begins to get, the Vikings MUST beat the Packers in order to fulfill Step 5, BUT also have to lose to the Colts and Bears in their own building, both teams with losing records, to fulfill Step 6. What a world.
Steps 8 through 10
None of the Cardinals, Saints or Panthers can run the table and win their final three games. Arizona would get in over the Eagles by virtue of a better record thanks to their tie, while the Saints and Panthers would own the tiebreaker based on superior conference records.
The Cardinals are home against the Saints (5-8), then at Seattle (8-4-1) and Los Angeles (4-9).
The Saints are at Arizona (5-7-1), home for the Bucs (8-5), then at Atlanta (8-5).
The Panthers are at Washington (7-5-1), versus Atlanta (8-5) and at Tampa Bay (8-5).
So to summarize...
The simplest path is this: Eagles beat the Ravens, Giants and Cowboys. The Bucs beat the Saints and Panthers in Weeks 16 and 17. Washington, the Falcons and the Packers don't win another game the rest of the season. The Vikings defeat the Packers in Week 16, but lose to the Colts and Bears. And the Cardinals simply don't win all three of their games, although if they took out the Saints, that would put slightly less work on the Bucs.
It's crazy. It's outlandish. It's not going to happen.
And more has probably happened before.