Why the Bears/Eagles game doesn’t matter

While it would be great to beat the Bears on national TV on Sunday Night Football, it really doesn’t matter. The Eagles are in a situation in which beating them would likely only provide bragging rights. It does pose as a good challenge since the Bears are a likely playoff team, but the Eagles can still control their own destiny and make the playoffs even with a loss in this game. And it’s all thanks to the Dallas Cowboys.

When the Eagles lost last week in terrible fashion to the Vikings, I personally felt defeated. What happened? That didn’t look like the playoff caliber team that had just gone on a huge winning streak. How could they lose to one of the worst teams in the NFL? While there are many reasons for that, I’m not going to go into it and the moment (that would take far too long). But their playoff chances were put in a much better position after the Cowboys choked in typical Dallas fashion and lost to the Packers after blowing a huge halftime lead. That put the Eagles at 8-6 and the Cowboys at 7-7, leaving the Eagles still one game above the Cowboys in the NFC East. And with only two games remaining, one of them being where they face each other, it puts Dallas in a very tough situation.

Next week, when the Eagles play the Bears Sunday night, the Cowboys will have already played. If Dallas loses, then that’s great. But if they win, then it doesn’t really matter because they play the Eagles the next week in the game that would decide the NFC East. Because of the way the NFC is shaping up, the Eagles are actually eliminated from Wild Card contention. But, they can still win the division and make themselves the 3rd or 4th seed in the conference. While they clearly haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet, being either of those seeds would be fine and wouldn’t make much of a difference. Here are all of the situations that could occur, which proves why the Eagles do not need to beat the Bears this Sunday.

Situation 1

Dallas Cowboys defeat Washington Redskins
Philadelphia Eagles defeat Chicago Bears

If both NFC East teams in playoff contention win, then it puts the Eagles at 9-6 and the Cowboys at 8-7, leaving their positions in the NFC East the same way they were. But, if the Eagles lose to the Cowboys in Week 17 and both teams end up 9-7, the Cowboys would have the head-to-head tiebreaker and would win the division. If the Eagles won, they’d have the better record and by default would win the division.

Situation 2

Dallas Cowboys defeat Washington Redskins
Chicago Bears defeat Philadelphia Eagles

This would make both teams 8-7 after Week 16, but the Cowboys would be back in the lead in the division because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. Therefore, the winner of the Cowboys/Eagles game in Week 17 would have the better record and would advance to the playoffs by winning the NFC East. This shows that even if Dallas wins and Philly loses this week, the Eagles are fine.

Situation 3

Washington Redskins defeat Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles defeat Chicago Bears

Sure, people are still pointing out this possibility because it would put the Eagles at 9-6 and the Cowboys at 7-8, meaning the Eagles clinch the NFC East. But this one just seems overly optimistic and unlikely. While the Cowboys have historically played terribly in December, the Redskins are possibly the worst team in the NFL, and it would take a serious collapse for Dallas to lose this one. But, even though the Redskins are starting a backup QB, the Cowboys lost to a backup last week in Matt Flynn, so it’s still possible. But, this is definitely the least likely choice and should not be considered heavily.

Situation 4

Washington Redskins defeat Dallas Cowboys
Chicago Bears defeat Philadelphia Eagles

If both of these NFC East teams lose, the outcome is the same as if both of them won. The Eagles are still one game ahead in the division, and the winner of the Week 17 matchup would determine the winner of the division. The only difference would be that if the Cowboys won, they would automatically get the fourth seed in the conference no matter what else happened with the NFC North teams (the Eagles would only get the 3rd seed if the Lions won the division).

In situations 2 and 4, the Eagles cannot get the 3rd seed and must get the 4th seed if they make the playoffs. In situations 2, 3, and 4, the Cowboys cannot get the 3rd seed and must get the 4th seed if they make the playoffs. In situation 1, the Cowboys can only get the 3rd seed if the Packers win the division at 8-7-1, but other than that they must be the 4th seed if they make the playoffs.

The bottom line is that the Eagles can still make it into the playoffs no matter what happens in Week 16. Whether they’re 3rd or 4th seed doesn’t really matter because although it may help them a bit in home field advantage situations if they’re 3rd seed, that would only occur in the Conference Championship if both the 1st and 2nd seeds had lost the week before, meaning it’s highly unlikely. Plus, the Eagles have a losing record at home, so it doesn’t even suggest that it’d help them. And since the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th seeds are wide open between the Cardinals, Seahawks, Saints, 49ers, and Panthers, there’s really no telling at this point whether having a certain seed would mean the Eagles would play a certain team. It’s too wide open at this point. Does this mean the Eagles should not try in this game? No, but it’s definitely not the end of the world if they lose.

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