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November 29, 2019

Updating the Eagles' and Cowboys' playoff tiebreaker scenarios

Eagles NFL
112919DougPedersonJasonGarrett Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

Doug Pederson thanks Jason Garrett for keeping the Eagles' postseason hopes alive.

If the Philadelphia Eagles played in any other division in the NFC, their season would already pretty much be over. Luckily for them, they play in the craptastic NFC East, where there are a pair of bottom four teams in Washington and the Giants, as well as the perpetually underachieving Cowboys, who are doing everything in their power to keep the Eagles alive.

As you all saw, the Cowboys were handed an embarrassing loss on national television by the Buffalo Bills, thus bringing their record to 6-6. The owner had tears in his eyes, a player (it turned out to be Michael Bennett) screamed at the team for a while, and it was a Happy Thanksgiving across the Delaware Valley. 

The Eagles, should they take care of business against a very bad Miami Dolphins team this Sunday, will once again be tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East:

NFC East Record Division GB 
 Cowboys6-6 4-0 
 Eagles5-6 1-1 
 Giants2-9 1-2 
Washington2-9 0-3 

Before we get to the tiebreakers, here's what the Eagles' and Cowboys' schedules look like the rest of the season:

 WeekEagles (5-6) Cowboys (6-6) 
 13At Dolphins (2-9) Bills (LOST) 
 14Giants (2-9) At Bears (6-6) 
 15At Washington (2-9)  Rams (6-5)
 16Cowboys (6-6)  At Eagles (5-6)
 17At Giants (2-9)  Washington (2-9)
 Opponents' combined record14-42 (.250)19-26 (.422)

Here's how divisional tie-breakers work in the NFL:

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games (games played against the same opponents).

Obviously, if the Cowboys beat the Eagles Week 16, they will own a 2-0 record against them this season, and will almost certainly win the division. The only mildly feasible way the Eagles can win the division despite getting swept by Dallas would be if the Eagles won their other four games, and Dallas lost at least two other games.

If the Eagles beat the Cowboys Week 16, that's a split. The next tie-breaker is divisional record, and there's a good chance that both the Eagles and Cowboys will sweep the impotent Giants and Washington team. That means it would go to the third tie-breaker, common opponents.

Here are the Eagles' and Cowboys' common opponents, with their results so far:

Common opponent Did the Eagles beat them? Did the Cowboys beat them 
Giants, 1st matchup TBD Yes 
Giants, 2nd matchup TBD Yes 
 Washington, 1st matchupYes Yes 
 Washington, 2nd matchupTBD TBD 
 LionsNo Yes 
 PackersYes No 
 VikingsNo No 
 BearsYes TBD 
 JetsYes No 
 BillsYes No 
 Patri*tsNo No 
 DolphinsTBD Yes 

So far, the Eagles have beaten three teams -- the Packers, Jets, and Bills -- that the Cowboys lost to. The Cowboys have beaten only one team -- the Lions -- that the Eagles have lost to.

Got it? Soooooo, basically, win Week 16 vs. Dallas, as well as the three remaining games against the Giants and Washington, and the Eagles will be the 4 seed, with a home playoff game in the wildcard round.

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