The day started with the Eagles and their fans upset about a snowstorm-induced postponement but ended in joy: Even though they did not play, the Eagles clinched the NFC East and a postseason berth after the New York Giants lost at Green Bay, 45-17, on Sunday.
The Eagles can finish with no worse than the No. 3 seed and will host at least one game in the playoffs. If the season were to end now, they would play against the Packers, a team they lost to in the opener, in the first round on Jan. 8 or 9.
But there are still a number of scenarios that could play out. For instance, with two games remaining, the Eagles could still finish with one of the top two seeds in the NFC.
And those two games will take place over a five-day span after the NFL moved Sunday night's Eagles-Vikings game at Lincoln Financial Field to Tuesday because of the storm that pounded Philadelphia and the East Coast.
The Eagles end the regular season against the Cowboys on Jan. 2, also at the Linc.
Even if the Eagles win both games, they'll need some help to secure a higher seed. The Bears, the NFC North champions, beat the New York Jets, 38-34, to move to 11-4 and a half-game ahead of the Eagles, whom they beat last month.
If Chicago were to lose at Green Bay next week and the Eagles won their remaining two games, the Eagles would earn the No. 2 seed.
And they are still not mathematically eliminated from the top seed. But, along with a Bears loss, they would need the 12-2 Falcons to fall to the 10-4 Saints on Monday and then against the 2-13 Panthers in the finale.
If the Eagles fail to get past the 5-9 Vikings, they are locked into the third seed and will face one of four teams: the Packers, Giants, Buccaneers, or Saints.
Sunday night, though, the Eagles basked in their first divisional championship since 2006. The Giants' defeat dropped them to 9-6 and, even if the Eagles lose their final two games, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, having beaten New York both times this season - a 27-17 win on Nov. 21 and last week's 38-31 miracle at New Meadowlands Stadium.
It is the Eagles' sixth NFC East first-place finish and ninth playoff appearance since coach Andy Reid took over in 1999. A Super Bowl title, of course, still eludes Reid and the Eagles. But an NFC East crown was a big first step in the team's quest for their first championship in 50 years.
Coincidentally, Sunday marked the anniversary of that title game when the Eagles trumped the Packers, 17-13, at Franklin Field. A half-century later, the Packers aided the Eagles and will have significant reason to do so again next week. If they beat the Bears, the Packers are in the playoffs, and the Eagles have their bye.
Not many expected Reid's 12th team to be in this position when the season started. Quarterback Donovan McNabb was discarded in the off-season, and Kevin Kolb was handed the reins of a very young team. Most fans seemed to be content with a rebuilding year.
But everything changed when Kolb was knocked out of the Packers game with a concussion, and Michael Vick took over. The backup quarterback nearly rallied the Eagles to victory, and the following week he was even better. Vick's performance forced Reid's hand, and he made the stunning decision to bench Kolb before Week 3.
There were many other twists along the way - Vick's injury and Kolb's valiant return to name two - but the Eagles are back in the postseason once again. Reid's nine playoff berths ranks 14th best all-time among NFL coaches. But this may be his best job yet. He also won NFC East titles with the Eagles in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006.
With the New York Giants' 45-17 loss to Green Bay on Sunday, the Eagles clinched the NFC East. They are assured at least the NFC's No. 3 seed but still have not been eliminated from securing either the first or second seeds.
The Eagles can clinch the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye if they win vs. the Vikings on Tuesday and vs. the Cowboys on Jan. 2, AND the Falcons lose vs. the Saints on Monday and vs. the Panthers on Jan. 2, AND the Bears lose at the Packers on Jan. 2.
The Eagles can clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye if they win vs. the Vikings and the Cowboys, AND the Bears lose at the Packers.
All other scenarios have the Eagles finishing with the No. 3 seed, which means they would host the No. 6 seed in the first round of the playoffs on Jan. 8 or 9. The No. 6 seed will be one of four teams: the Packers, Giants, Buccaneers, or Saints.
- Jeff McLane