Eagles and Dallas Cowboys: 6 Potential Playoff Scenarios

eliot-shorr-parks
December 06, 2019 - 7:14 am
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The Dallas Cowboys are doing their best to hand the division to the Eagles — they just have to go out and take it. 

The Cowboys lost yet another game on Thursday night, falling to the Chicago Bears and dropping their record to 6-7. Now, even after losing to the Miami Dolphins, the Eagles are just one game back of being tied for the lead in the NFC East at 5-7. 

After the loss, FiveThirtyEight has the Eagles playoff chances at 41%, only 18% behind the Cowboys’ chances, which sit at 59%. The New York Times playoff predictor gives them an even smaller chance at just 33%, and the Cowboys are given a 67% chance of going to the postseason. 

Despite what the odds say, however, the bottom line remains true — if the Eagles win out, they will finish 9-7 and win the NFC East. 

Here is an updated look at the tiebreakers that the Eagles will need over the Cowboys to make it to the postseason: 

NFC East: 

The Cowboys’ remaining schedule is not easy, and last night proved it. Games against the Bears and Los Angeles Rams, that one month ago looked easy, no longer are. 

The Cowboys' remaining schedule looks like this: 

Home vs. Los Angeles (6-5)

At Philadelphia (5-7)

Home vs. Washington (3-9)

Record of remaining opponents: 14-21

With how the Cowboys are playing, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if they dropped their upcoming game against the Rams, and came to Philadelphia with a 6-8.

The Eagles’ schedule still looks favorable, even if they are playing terrible right now:

Home vs. Giants (2-10)

At Washington (3-9)

Home vs. Cowboys (6-7)

At Giants (2-10)

Record of remaining opponents: 13-38

The Eagles just lost to the Dolphins, so it is hard to say any game is a sure-win, but the fact that it is possible there isn’t a single playoff team on their schedule the rest of the way.

Here are a few potential scenarios:

** Eagles win the next two, Cowboys lose to Rams: If this happens, the Eagles would go into their Week 16 matchup at 7-7, the Cowboys at 6-8. If the Eagles were to win that game they would clinch the division. If the Cowboys won, they would both be tied at 7-8, but the Cowboys would have the tiebreaker in head-to-head matchup. Then the Week 17 games would matter, as the Eagles would need the Cowboys to lose and they would need to beat the Giants to get in. 

*** Eagles win the next two, Cowboys beat the Rams: If this happens, the Eagles would go into their Week 16 matchup at 7-7, with the Cowboys at 7-7 as well. A win for the Cowboys in Week 16 would clinch the NFC East. If the Eagles won, they would then also need to win in Week 17 to clinch the division. 

** Eagles lose the next two, Cowboys beat Rams: If this happens, the Eagles would be eliminated from the playoffs.

** Eagles lose the next two, Cowboys lose to the Rams: If this happens, the Eagles would go into Week 16 at 5-9, but not eliminated just yet, as the Cowboys would be 6-8. A win for the Cowboys in Week 16 would clinch the division, while a win for the Eagles would keep them alive — but they would also need the Cowboys to lose in Week 17, while beating the Giants. 

** Eagles spilt the next two, Cowboys lose to Rams: If this happens, the Eagles would be 6-8 heading into their Week 16 matchup, with the Cowboys at 6-8 as well. If the Cowboys won, they would move to 7-8, and own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Eagles. If the Eagles won they would go one game up on the Cowboys, and could clinch the following week with a win over the Giants. 

** Eagles split the next two, Cowboys beat the Rams: If this happens, the Eagles would enter their Week 16 matchup at 6-8, and the Cowboys at 7-7. A win for the Cowboys could clinch the NFC East. A win for the Eagles would move them to 7-8 and drop the Cowboys to 7-8. The Eagles would then need the Cowboys to lose in Week 17 and they would need to beat the Giants to make the playoffs. 

Tie breakers:

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head. The Eagles are currently behind in this one, 1-0. This one makes the Week 16 matchup that much more important, as the Cowboys would clinch this tiebreaker — and likely the division — with a win.  

If the Eagles win in Week 16, and end the season with the same record as the Cowboys, the next tie breaker would be divisional records. If both teams win the games they are supposed to, they would each finish the season 5-1 in the NFC East, moving it to the third tie breaker. The Eagles are currently 1-1 in the NFC East with four games remaining in the division, the Cowboys are currently 4-0 with two games remaining in the division. 

The third tie breaker? Common opponents, which the Eagles and Cowboys have 12 of. The Eagles are 5-4 in the nine games they have played so far out of the 12. The Cowboys are 5-6 after their loss to the Bears. The Eagles remaining common opponent games are the Giants and Washington (twice). It is very possible, if the Eagles beat the Cowboys, they could win the tie breaker with a 8-4 record in common opponent games, as the Cowboys already have five losses against common opponents. 

If they were still tied after the third tie breaker, the fourth tie-breaker would be record against teams in the conference. The Eagles are currently 3-5 in the conference, with the Cowboys 5-4 after their loss to the Bears. 

Wild Card:

A result of the loss on Sunday? The chances at the Wild Card are gone.

The Eagles are currently on the outside looking in at 5-7, trailing the Vikings (8-4) and San Francisco 49ers (10-2) by at least three games. They lost to the Vikings this season, which means they would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to them. They can’t pass the Seahawks or 49ers, but they could in theory finish 9-7 and the Vikings could finish 8-8. Still, if that happened, the Eagles would almost certainly be division winners and not get in through the Wild Card. 

A look at the team's realistically still in the Wild Card hunt (using NFL.com's current order): 

1. 49ers (10-2)

2. Vikings (8-4)

3. Los Angeles Rams (7-5) 

4. Chicago Bears (7-6)

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)

6. Eagles (5-7)

Yup, the Buccaneers are listed ahead of the Eagles in the NFL Playoff Picture — a sign of just how far this team has fallen. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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