Updated Eagles playoff scenario
My guess is most of you didn't see enough from the Eagles in their 26-10 win over the Dolphins to think this team can pull out a miracle finish and win the NFC East.
But, I also know some of you are not ready to give up on this season just yet. Especially after the Birds got some help when the Giants beat the Cowboys, 37-34, Sunday night.
So, for that portion of the readership, here's exactly what needs to happen the rest of the way for the Eagles to win the NFC East:
1. The Eagles need to win out. They host the Jets next Sunday at 4:15 and then travel to Dallas on Christmas Eve (a Saturday) to take on the Cowboys. The Birds host the Redskins at 1 p.m. on New Year's Day in their regular-season finale.
2. The Giants have to go 1-2 (or worse). They host the Redskins next week, take on the Jets in Week 16 and finish up at home against the Cowboys.
3. The Cowboys need to go 1-2 (or worse). Dallas travels to Tampa for a Saturday night game, before hosting the Eagles. The Cowboys travel to New Meadowlands Stadium to take on the Giants in Week 17.
The scenario described above would put the Eagles at 8-8 and the Giants/Cowboys at 8-8 or worse. The Eagles would own the tiebreak against Dallas on account of head-to-head matchups, and they'd own the tiebreak against the Giants on account of division record.
There is a scenario in which the Eagles could be eliminated in the NFC East race by the time they take the field at the Linc Sunday at 4:15 p.m. Dallas plays Saturday night, and the Giants play Sunday at 1. If they both win, the Eagles cannot win the NFC East.
Here are some thoughts on the Giants' win over the Cowboys last night:
* With under seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Giants were driving into Cowboys territory, down 27-22. Eli Manning looked for D.J. Ware on a screen pass, which was deflected and intercepted by linebacker Sean Lee, who returned it 30 yards. Two plays later, Tony Romo found Dez Bryant wide open for a 50-yard touchdown on a blown coverage. Cowboys 34, Giants 22. 5:41 left. Game over, right? Well, not so fast.
* That's because the Cowboys have a knack for finding strange ways to lose games, and Manning has had a knack for pulling them out this year. Manning put together consecutive drives of 80 and 53 yards, respectively. On those two drives, which both resulted in touchdowns, Manning was 8-for-11 for 122 yards. One of the incompletions was a drop in the end zone by wide receiver Mario Manningham. Giants 37, Cowboys 34.
* Romo, of course, drove the Cowboys 47 yards into field-goal range, but Dan Bailey's 47-yard field goal didn't count because Tom Coughlin called timeout at the last second to ice him. When Bailey lined up again, Jason Pierre-Paul blocked it. And just like that, we had a two-way tie for first place in the NFC East, with both the Giants and Cowboys at 7-6.
* If you're wondering about Pierre-Paul, yes, memory serves you correctly. He was taken two spots AFTER Brandon Graham in the 2010 draft. I've been impressed every time I've watched him this year. Pierre-Paul has 12.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and six pass deflections, not to mention the blocked kick at the end. It seemed like Pierre-Paul was involved in just about every big defensive play the Giants made yesterday.
* Romo's numbers were great: 21-for-31 for 321 yards and four touchdowns. The Cowboys' defense deserves the blame in this one. Having said that, I'm not sure how he missed that throw to a wide-open Miles Austin on 3rd-and-5 with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
* Not only did the Cowboys lose the game, but they suffered some bad injury news as well. Running back DeMarco Murray reportedly fractured his ankle and will be done for the season. Starting cornerback Mike Jenkins will have an MRI on his injured right shoulder. And starting center Phil Costa suffered a concussion.
* Manning continues to get it done in the fourth quarter. Yes, he had an interception, but Manning now has a 117.0 QB rating in the final 15 minutes this season. If the season ended today, he'd have new career highs in yards per attempt (8.40) and QB rating (95.5). Manning's been picked off 12 times after throwing 25 interceptions a year ago.
* The Giants' pass defense looks to be just as bad as the Eagles'. New York has allowed 24 touchdown passes; the Birds have given up 23. The two teams have nearly identical opposing QB ratings (89.9 for the Eagles; 89.5 for the Giants). And Dallas' pass defense, which was dealing with injuries, didn't look much better last night either.
Earlier Sunday, I posted my observations from the Eagles' win.