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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 21: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after defeating the New Orleans Saints at Lincoln Financial Field on November 21, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

By Dylan MacKinnon

Four to Five weeks ago, there wasn’t a glimmer of hope the Eagles could make the playoffs, let alone win the NFC East. The Eagles were coming off a ugly loss in Las Vegas to fall to 2-5, and the Cowboys were taking a 5-1 record out of their Bye Week. And they would go on to win in week 8, pushing their lead in the NFC East to 4 and 1/2 games. Now? Cowboys have dropped 3 of 4 games, and the Eagles have pulled to within 2 games. And with a win on Sunday over the Giants, they can cut that lead to just 1 and 1/2 games.

The Cowboys loss on Thanksgiving to the Raiders now has Eagles fans setting their sights on the division. But is that actually an attainable goal? Lets look at what the Eagles will need to do to pull off the comeback, and pass the Cowboys for the NFC East crown. And lets start by looking at what it will take if the Eagles win out. That is by no means a lock to happen, but it is what much of the hopes of a NFC East Title bank on. Here is what the situation will be if the Eagles win out.

  • Eagles would be 11-6, 5-1 in Division, 9-3 in Conference
  • Cowboys if they only lose to the Eagles, would be 12-5, 5-1 in division, 10-2 in Conference

The Eagles would need the Cowboys to lose one of their other games. Besides the Eagles in the final week, they play the Saints, Giants, Washington twice, and the Cardinals. But would any of these wins work? The most likely loss on that schedule is the Cardinals, who are currently the no 1 seed in the NFC. If they Cowboys lose to the Cardinals and Eagles, and Eagles win every other game, the two teams will be tied. So, let’s go through the tie breakers

  • First Tie breaker- head to head record
    • Both teams would be 1-1
  • Second Tie Breaker- Division record
    • Both teams would be 5-1
  • Third Tie Breaker- Common Game Record
    • Both Teams would be 8-4
  • Fourth Tie Breaker- Conference Record
    • Both Teams will be 9-3
  • Fifth Tie Breaker- Strength of Victory
    • Eagles Current Strength of Victory- 19-33 (.365)
      • Teams they play the rest of the year are (.377), so their Strength of Victory wont improve much
    • Cowboys Current Strength of Victory- 35-38 (.479)
      • We are assuming they beat the Giants, Washington Twice, and the Saints, who are all currently (.390)Only loss is to the Saints

In this scenario, where the only other loss the Cowboys have besides the Eagles is to the Cardinals, the Cowboys will win the tie breaker. Their uncommon wins are simply better than the Eagles. Wins over the Patriots, Chargers, and Vikings, compared to the Eagles wins over the  Broncos, Lions, and we are assuming the Jets, make it hard to see a scenario where the Eagles have a better strength of victory. The Cowboys extra loss can not come vs the Cardinals. But if the Cowboys lose to any of the other teams, the tie breakers will favor the Eagles.

  • The Saints
    • Eagles and Cowboys 11-6
    • 1-1 In Head to Head
    • 5-1 In Division
    • Eagles 8-4 in Common Games, Cowboys would be 7-5
    • The Eagles win the NFC East
  • Lose to the Giants or Washington
    • Both teams 11-6
    • 1-1 in head to head
    • Eagles 5-1 in Division, Cowboys 4-2
    • The Eagles Win the Division

That is what the Eagles need to happen. They need to win out, and for the Cowboys to lose to either the Saints, Washington, or the Giants. A loss to the Cardinals is irrelevant to the Eagles winning the NFC East in this scenario because it is not a division game, and is not a common game.

Are these scenarios likely? Winning out out may be tough, even with their weak schedule. It is not uncommon for even great teams to occasionally drop a game they should win. And while the Eagles are playing much better, they are not a great team. Winning out would mean they went on a 8 game winning streak. Is this team good enough to win 8 in a row? We will see.

And banking on the Saints, the Giants, or Washington to beat the Cowboys is also a big ask. The Saints have nothing left, with much of their offense injured, and a very mediocre Trevor Siemian at QB. And Washington and the Giants are the same two teams we think are so bad we are banking on the Eagles winning 4 games over them in 5 weeks.

But what if the Eagles do drop a game? Do they have any wiggle room to lose a game and still catch the Cowboys? Well. it would be incredibly difficult. If they lose to the Jets, it is possible.

  • Eagles would end up 10-7, 5-1 in division, and 9-3 in Conference
  • They would need the Cowboys to lose to one of the Saints, Giants, or Washington, and also the Cardinals
    • Lose to the Saints
      • Cowboys are 10-7, 5-1 in Division, 8-4 in Conference
      • Eagles have a 8-4 Record in Common Games, Cowboys 7-5
    • Lose to Washington or Giants
      • Cowboys 10-7, and 4-2 in Division

So while a loss to the Jets would be embarrassing, it would only impact the Eagles odds in that it would then make a Cowboys loss to the Cardinals relevant. A loss to the Jets would hurt the Eagles chances to win the Wildcard more so than it would their chances to win the division.

But what if they drop 1 of the 4 games to the Giants and Washington?

  • They would be 4-2 in Division
  • 8-4 in conference
  • 7-5 in common Games with the Cowboys

In this case, a loss to the Cardinals would not help too much. Here is what they will need if the Eagles drop one of their 4 in Division games.

  • Lose two of the four games they have to the Saints, Giants, and Washington Twice

If the Eagles are going to take the division, they probably need to win out. They could maybe survive a loss to the Jets, but a in division loss will dig a hole very hard to get out if they want to want her NFC East. They will also need the Cowboys to be upset by either The Saints, Washington, or the Giants.

Does that all feel unlikely? That is because it is. The Eagles are a longshot to win the NFC East. Even after possibly making up 3 games in 4 weeks. They dug themselves into too deep of a hole.

But this is all a better place than the Eagles were 5 weeks ago. All they can do is take care of their own business. If they win every game in the next 6 weeks, it is possible they could be playing the Cowboys for the division. And even if they wont be playing for the East, they could be in line for a Wild Card berth. They have themselves in good position to be in the playoffs regardless of if it is by winning the division or not. Just do your job, and lets the rest of the cards fall where they will.