Eagles playoff scenarios: detailed situations of how they make the postseason

The Eagles stand at 9-5 after 15 weeks of the regular season, a very good record. Except this year, it may not be good enough to make the playoffs, even if they win the next two games. After a loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night, they relinquished their ability to control their own destiny into the playoffs, meaning they’ll need some help from other teams. Suddenly, the losses to San Francisco and Arizona are even more maddening, as even one win out of those two would’ve meant a much better playoff situation.

The Eagles have two easy games coming up in terms of opponent’s record, but neither will be an easy game to play. They play two division opponents that are just dying to ruin a rival’s chance of making the playoffs. They have the Redskins first this Saturday in a battle between Mark Sanchez and Robert Griffin III. This is RGIII’s like ninth chance at being the team’s starting quarterback due to injuries to everyone else. Sanchez on the other hand has been given the reins after Nick Foles broke his collarbone,  and has now been the starter for the last six games.

Enough about that game though. Even if they beat both the Redskins and the Giants, other teams will need to either win or lose to give the Eagles a chance at making the playoffs. Here are some scenarios of how they could make it into the postseason and what seed they’d get.

First Seed

Forget it, the Eagles have no shot at the top seed. The Cardinals, Seahawks and Packers all have head-to-head wins against them, so even if those teams and the Eagles are all 11-5, the Eagles wouldn’t be above them. Also, the Lions have the tiebreaker over the Eagles due to a better conference record, so they’d be above the Eagles too if they both finish at 11-5.

Second Seed

Much to my surprise, there is still a slight possibility that it could happen. While it’s extremely unlikely, here’s what would need to happen:

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Buccaneers defeat Packers
-Bears defeat Lions
-Seahawks defeat Cardinals

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Lions and Packers tie
-49ers defeat Cardinals

*Cowboys lose at least one game

OR

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Buccaneers defeat Packers
-Bears defeat Lions
-Cardinals defeat Seahawks

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Lions and Packers tie

*Cowboys lose at least one game

So in the end, are these scenarios even worth considering? Probably not, but it’s interesting to think that it’s still possible. I think outcomes such as the Buccs beating the Packers is less likely than the Packers and Lions tying, but you never know.

Third Seed

This is a much more reasonable possibility considering it will be the likely seed of the winner of the NFC East. It’s where the Cowboys currently stand, but again, if the Eagles and Cowboys have the same record to finish the season, the Eagles win the division. Here are some scenarios of how it could happen:

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Colts defeat Cowboys

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants

OR

Week 16
-Colts defeat Cowboys

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Redskins defeat Cowboys

OR

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Redskins defeat Cowboys

Essentially, the Eagles have to either win both games and have the Cowboys lose once, or the Cowboys have to lose twice and the Eagles lose once. If the Eagles lose both games, they’re out no matter what. If the Cowboys win both games, the Eagles are also eliminated from contention for the third seed. There’s also a few situations that involve ties, but because it’s so complicated, I’ll just leave those out. The likelihood of ties happening is so small.

Fourth Seed

Forget it, there’s no chance of this happening either. The NFC South is so bad that the best any team in this division can do is 8-8. And since the Eagles already have nine wins, they’re ahead of that division winner no matter what if they win the NFC East.

Fifth Seed

This is another more likely scenario for the Eagles, although to be honest it’s probably a little harder to achieve than third seed. There are many different combinations of wins/losses by teams in order for the Eagles to end up fifth in the conference, but here they are (excluding situations involving ties):

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Cowboys defeat Colts
-Bears defeat Lions
-Cardinals defeat Seahawks

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Cowboys defeat Redskins
-Packers defeat Lions
-Rams defeat Seahawks

OR

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Cowboys defeat Colts
-Buccaneers defeat Packers
-Cardinals defeat Seahawks

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Cowboys defeat Redskins
-Lions over Packers
-Rams defeat Seahawks

This seems like a very complicated pair of situations, and that’s because it is. At this point, it would just be easier for the Eagles to get the third seed. The chance that they get the fifth seed is very low because it would require some pair of the Packers, Lions and Seahawks to both go 10-6 and be lower than the Eagles in the standings. Also, it seems kind of weird to hope the Cowboys win in this situation, which is something that no Eagles fan really wants to do.

Sixth Seed

This seed requires the most variation, and it also requires both the Eagles and Cowboys to win their next two games. The bottom line is that either the Eagles, Seahawks, Lions or Packers has to miss the playoffs if the Cowboys win the NFC East, so I went through and looked at each possible situation.

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Cowboys defeat Colts
-Bears defeat Lions

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Cowboys defeat Redskins
-Packers defeat Lions

*Seahawks win at least one game

OR

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Cowboys defeat Colts
-Buccaneers defeat Packers

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Cowboys defeat Redskins
-Lions defeat Packers

*Seahawks win at least one game

OR

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Cowboys defeat Colts
-Cardinals defeat Seahawks
-Packers defeat Buccaneers
-Lions defeat Bears

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Cowboys defeat Redskins
-Rams defeat Seahawks

OR

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Cowboys defeat Colts
-Cardinals defeat Seahawks
-Buccaneers defeat Packers
-Lions defeat Bears

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Cowboys defeat Redskins
-Rams defeat Seahawks
-Packers defeat Lions

OR

Week 16
-Eagles defeat Redskins
-Cowboys defeat Colts
-Cardinals defeat Seahawks
-Packers defeat Buccaneers
-Bears defeat Lions

Week 17
-Eagles defeat Giants
-Cowboys defeat Redskins
-Rams defeat Seahawks
-Lions defeat Packers

I tried to double and triple check many of these scenarios, but it’s possible I may have made an error. Overall, the easiest situation is if the Eagles just win their next two games and the Cowboys lose one of their next two games. Then they’d win the division and get the third seed. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and it may not work that way. If they have to get into the detailed situations like some of these other ones, then they’ll need a lot of help in order to still make the playoffs, which is not the best thing to rely on.

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