Just so everybody knows what is at stake on Sunday night, the people who do the ciphering have come up with this:
If the Eagles beat the Cowboys, they have more than a 95 percent chance of making the playoffs. If the Eagles lose to the Cowboys, the odds fall to just south of a coin flip.
No pressure, though.
This is the working definition of a “big game” in the National Football League -- not exactly a loser-goes-home game, but one that will signify an enormous swing in the winner’s fortunes. The winner of the game will become the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC East (with the Eagles even more prohibitive than the Cowboys). The loser of the game will become dependent upon the kindness of strangers in the final two weeks of the season.
Here is the ciphering roundup:
At fivethirtyeight.com, they say that the Eagles currently have a 78 percent chance of making the playoffs. If the Eagles beat the Cowboys, those chances go up to 96.4 percent. But if the Eagles lose, they drop to 48.1 percent -- that is, just south of a coin flip. Because, at that point, the Eagles will be praying for Indianapolis to beat the Cowboys in Week 16. Or, for Green Bay or Detroit or Seattle to fall through the floor. The Eagles would lose tiebreakers to all three of those teams (as well as to Arizona, which can’t fall through the floor anymore).
At footballoutsiders.com, the calculations are very similar. As they stand today, the Eagles have a 79.2 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 74.9 percent chance of winning the division. If they beat the Cowboys, the division chances go up to 95 percent. If the Eagles lose, the division chances fall to 32.7 percent. It isn’t a complete calamity -- the Colts will have a real shot to beat the Cowboys -- but you wouldn’t want to bet on it, either. Not with your own money, anyway.
A couple of sites also have looked at the Eagles’ likely seeding. As it stands today, most of them see the Eagles as a No. 3 seed, which would give them a home game in the first round but no bye. Footballstatus.com puts the chances of a No. 3 seed at 62 percent. Footballoutsiders.com has it at 60.1 percent.
Now all they have to do is beat the Cowboys.