It's hard not to feel that the scoreboard watching in Week 13 has already delivered the desired results. The absolute most important result has already been secured in the form of the Bills' Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys, putting the Eagles in the driver's seat in the division and leaving Dallas in need of an Eagles' slip-up to regain control.
Still, at lot can happen in five weeks in the NFL, and while the Eagles can take comfort in having a clear path to the division title, there are still plenty of results that can throw things into disarray. For weeks, the most likely route to the postseason was through a division title, but faint Wild Card hopes remain possible should the Cowboys be able to wrest control of the division back from the Birds. As such, we'll continue to explore all possible paths as long as they remain open. The Saints, 49ers, and Ravens delivered favorable results for the Eagles last week. So, while Eagles fans are resting easy with the Cowboys result already in hand, here are other games that could impact the playoff picture in Week 13.
Packers (8-3) at Giants (2-9), Sunday 1:00
The punchless Giants have an opportunity to help the Eagles out on Sunday. Green Bay currently holds the NFC North courtesy of a tiebreaker with Minnesota. If you've kept up with our scoreboard watching columns, you know the Eagles would prefer the Vikings win the North and push the Packers into Wild Card contention due to head-to-head results with those teams. A win from the Giants, while unlikely, would help that happen. It looks like the conditions in the Meadowlands will be sloppy, so perhaps that could help to even the playing field a bit.
Redskins (2-9) at Panthers (5-6), Sunday 1:00
The Birds' other hapless division rival also has a chance to help the Eagles out this week. Carolina missed a golden opportunity last week, falling short in an upset bid against the Saints. The Eagles are currently ahead of the Panthers by virtue of the conference win percentage tiebreaker, so their in good shape with Carolina, but a loss would be devastating to the Panthers' playoff hopes and would help remove them from the list of threats to an Eagles Wild Card berth should that route become necessary.
Rams (6-5) at Cardinals (3-7-1), Sunday 4:05
The Rams were throttled by the Ravens last week, pulling them to within striking distance for the Birds. The Rams will figure heavily in the playoff picture with games remaining against the Seahawks, 49ers, and Cowboys. The Eagles will likely be able to catch the Rams in the standings, but a loss to the Cardinals would make it much more likely and would allow for the Eagles to have clearer rooting interests in some of the remaining Rams games.
Vikings (8-3) at Seahawks (9-2), Monday, 8:15
There's a lot to digest in this one, and it's hard not to consider how our outlook on this game would change if the Eagles had been able to defeat Seattle last week. But we're not here to ponder what-ifs, so instead we need to consider each team's record, their remaining schedules, and their division outlooks. Currently, these two squads hold the two Wild Card spots.
Record-wise, the Eagles would prefer a Seahawks win, keeping Minnesota at eight victories and keeping the minimum number of wins necessary for a Wild Card berth lower.
However, the head-to-head losses the Eagles own against each of these teams complicate matters, and the Birds would prefer the Vikings win their division, meaning a win here would be nice. At the same time, that pushes each current Wild Card holder to nine wins (the Packers will likely get to nine wins in Week 13 as well), and with the maximum number of wins the Eagles can get being 10, that would put them in a tough spot.
What about remaining schedules? Both teams have middle-of-the-pack schedules the rest of the way. Seattle plays at the Rams, at the Panthers, home against the Cardinals, and home against the 49ers. It's hard to imagine them losing all of those games, and even losing three would get them to at least 10 wins. Minnesota meanwhile, gets the Lions at home, at the Chargers, then home against the Packers and Bears. While still unlikely, it seems more plausible that the Vikings get held to nine wins.
This game shows just how difficult and improbable an Eagles Wild Card berth is, and the number of upsets that would likely be necessary for that to happen. Still, it feels like a Seahawks victory would be the better outcome here.
As the Minnesota-Seattle game demonstrates, the Eagles' Wild Card hopes are hanging by a thread, amplifying the missed opportunities by the Birds this season. The good news is that the Eagles know for a fact that they won't need to rely on the Wild Card if they can handle their own business. It certainly looks like it will be an intense race to the finish in the NFC.