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December 09, 2018

Can the Eagles still make the playoffs?

The Eagles' exhilarating, but gut-wrenching loss to the Cowboys on Sunday evening more or less put an end to their hopes of repeating as NFC East champions — yet another season where a new team will win the most storied division in football.

 Overall record  NFC East
Cowboys 8-54-1

At 6-7, the Eagles now turn their attention to the Wild Card, which is up for grabs in the NFC. The Eagles can still go 9-7, which would give them a good shot at continuing into the postseason.

Let's assume for the moment that the Cowboys, Bears, Rams and Saints are in good shape in their respective divisions (this may not be the case barring some kind of implosion in Chicago or Dallas but for this article we'll carry that premise). That would leave the following four teams dueling for two spots. Here is a look at the Eagles' real competition for a playoff berth. 

Panthers, 6-7

Remaining schedule: vs. Saints, vs. Falcons, at Saints

Carolina has a tie-breaker against the Eagles, as they won in Philly earlier this season, but the schedule is in Philly's favor. The Saints, one of the two top teams in the NFC, are in a race against the Rams for the top spot in the conference and unfortunately for the Panthers, they face New Orleans in two of their last three games. They've also lost five in a row. Of the teams to be worried about, they're toward the bottom.

Threat level: Low

Redskins, 6-7

Remaining opponents: at Jaguars, at Titans. vs. Eagles

File Washington into the same category as the Panthers. They are absolutely falling apart, after surrendering 40 points to the bottom-dwelling Giants and benching their third-string quarterback starter from Week 14 Mark Sanchez for a guy they signed off the street in Josh Johnson. Philly also faces Washington in Week 17,  a game that gives them a lot of control over their battle against Washington. 

Threat level: Very low

Seahawks, 7-5

Remaining opponents: vs. Vikings, at 49ers, vs. Chiefs, vs. Cardinals

Seattle plays Minnesota Monday night in a battle between the two teams currently slated to appear in the Wild Card spots if the season ended today. At 7-5, they hold the No. 5 seed. For Eagles fans, the Seahawks staying in the five spot is a good thing — especially if it includes a win over the Vikings. They have the Niners and Cardinals as layup wins what would get them to nine wins easily. They are only a threat if things get complicated.

Threat level: Low, as long as they keep winning. 

Vikings, 6-5-1

Remaining opponents: at Seahawks, vs. Dolphins, at Lions, vs. Bears

For the Eagles to have realistic hopes of a Wild Card spot, the Vikings have to lose to the Seahawks on Monday. Their tie means they can get to 9-6-1, a record that would best Philly in the winning percentage column and therefore put them in the No. 6 spot if both teams have nine wins. If they beat the Seahawks, they'd essentially have a two-game lead for the No. 6 spot (though it would then make Seattle vulnerable). The schedule is loaded with contenders in the Dolphins and Bears, making realistic setbacks on their schedule nearly every week (plus the Lions). 

Threat level: On high alert

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