To say Week 11 was frustrating for Eagles fans would be an understatement. The Eagles missed a prime opportunity to beat the Patriots. The Cowboys got their expected win over the Lions. The Broncos gave a ton of false hope, blowing a 20-point lead against the Vikings (a huge blow to the Birds' Wild Card hopes). The Rams won an ugly game against the Bears. The lone positive result was the Falcons win over the Panthers.
The result was the Eagles missing an incredible opportunity to shift the outlook in the NFC East while seeing their Wild Card hopes take a big hit. It's looking increasingly likely that a division title is the sole path to the postseason for the Birds, but that hasn't been unexpected. Still, as long as the Wild Card remains a mathematical possibility, we'll continue to monitor the necessary results. Let's take a look at Week 12.
Panthers (5-5) at Saints (8-2), Sunday, 1:00
The Eagles and Panthers remain tied on the fringe of Wild Card contention. So naturally, we'll be pulling for a Saints victory here. New Orleans has been the NFC South favorite for weeks now, and can all but wrap up the division on Sunday. Honestly, Carolina is the least of the Eagles worries right now, but pushing them further from contention would be a positive nonetheless.
Cowboys (6-4) at Patriots (9-1), Sunday 4:25
This is obvious, and all eyes in Philadelphia will turn to this game after the Eagles-Seahawks game concludes. Pretty much every win Dallas gets at this point is hurtful for the Birds, and this loss is one we've been counting on in projecting the Eagles' path to a division title. As hard as it is to stomach, we'll be pulling hard for the Pats on Sunday.
Packers (8-2) at 49ers (9-1), Sunday 8:20
Arguably the biggest game of the week, it has potential impacts on the Eagles playoff hopes. Green Bay and Minnesota remain locked in a battle for the NFC North crown. We've discussed before that it would be beneficial for the Eagles if the Vikings take the division and force the Packers into Wild Card territory courtesy of the head-to-head scenarios. Green Bay's three-game lead over the Eagles is tough with only six games to go, but a Packers loss would inch the door to Wild Card viability open just a bit more.
Ravens (8-2) at Rams (6-4), Monday 8:15
The Rams have basically been relegated to Wild Card contention barring an extreme turn of events out West. With a Rams loss, the Eagles could pull even with LA in the standings, and at the very least would remain just a game behind. Like most of the games we mentioned, a Rams loss serves to boost any slim hopes of a Wild Card possibility, even if just incrementally.
The Vikings are on a bye.
At this point, it's pretty clear who the Eagles would like to see as division winners. New Orleans in the South, Minnesota in the North, and San Francisco in the West. That leaves Carolina, Green Bay, Seattle, and Los Angeles as the teams the runner up in the East would be battling for a Wild Card spot.
Again, the Wild Card path remains an unlikely one as the current leaders there each have 8 wins. It's hard to imagine that it won't take at least 10 wins to secure a Wild Card spot, and it's also hard to imagine that if the Eagles get to 10 wins they won't be NFC East champions, making the Wild Card moot. Still, all it takes is a slip or two or an unforeseen upset to alter the outlook, so we will continue to monitor things.
We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but we glanced at the remaining schedules of the four teams mentioned above, and the results were encouraging. Of the four, Green Bay's is the easiest on paper, which is less than ideal, but there remains a very real possibility that some of those teams fall back to the pack a little bit down the stretch and the final few weeks of the season could get very intersting, keeping this column relevant in the process.
The Eagles have a huge opportunity on Sunday, as a win would serve to boost their chances in each potential path to the playoffs.