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John Smallwood: Unbelievable, but Eagles still have a chance

THE AMAZING thing about the Eagles right now is that they can actually still talk about making the playoffs with a straight face.

If the Eagles win their remaining four games and get some help, they can win the NFC East. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
If the Eagles win their remaining four games and get some help, they can win the NFC East. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)Read more

THE AMAZING thing about the Eagles right now is that they can actually still talk about making the playoffs with a straight face.

Coming off a miserable loss at Seattle that dropped them to 4-8, the Eagles, by all rights, should be mathematically eliminated from the race for the NFC East title.

They aren't.

In fact, if it weren't for the fact that there are only four games left in the season, you could say that the Birds got up from a vicious knockdown blow and still had a puncher's chance going into the final round.

That this says more about the lack of quality teams in the NFC East than it does about the Eagles having some kind of scrappy disposition to fight to the bitter end is actually irrelevant.

The facts are that should the Eagles win - cough, cough, cough - their last four games and get some help from teams playing the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, there is a small, tiny, infinitesimal chance that they could all finish 8-8 and the Eagles would win the division on a tiebreaker.

You laugh?

Me, too.

Still, if you are looking for some reason other than seeing the final four games render a death sentence to the 13-year reign of Andy Reid, there you have it.

A shot at the playoffs, it's dumb, ridiculous, mind-numbing, yet completely possible.

There already is some evidence that something stupidly bizarre could be in the works.

Count me among the many who believed the Eagles have finally had that baking thermometer indicate "done" when they were humiliated by the truly pathetic Seahawks last Thursday.

But then the division-leading Cowboys lost in overtime to Arizona and the Giants suffered a last-second loss to Green Bay.

Dallas (7-5) obviously has the inside track to the title, but it still has a game with the Eagles, who already beat the Cowboys in Philadelphia, and two games with the Giants remaining. Their other game is in Tampa Bay.

Is it inconceivable that Dallas could lose three of those four?

The Giants once were 6-2 but have now lost four straight. They have the two games with Dallas left, plus games with Washington and the New York Jets.

A 2-2 finish looks like the best-case scenario for the Giants.

Thanks to the Cowboys and Giants showing the capability to be as inept as the Eagles have been, it's possible that an 8-8 record could win the NFC East.

"The other teams in the division keep giving us another chance," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "We have an opportunity to take advantage of that. We can't control some things, but we can go out and handle our own business, which is something we haven't been doing."

You have every reason not to believe. How many times have we seen the Eagles with an opportunity to pull this season back from the brink, only to fall flat on their faces?

The loss to Seattle just joins the one against San Francisco, the one against Chicago, and the one against Arizona.

The thought of this particular group of players and coaches getting it together enough to pull off four straight victories isn't very plausible.

Still, some hope is better than none, isn't it?

"We definitely know the circumstances," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "We need a lot of stuff to happen, but it begins with us.

"The only thing we can control is to go out and put up a good performance this week. No matter what team does what in our division, we can only control what we can control. We have to play way better than we did this past week."

The Eagles actually have a personal example of how things can twist during the final weeks of a NFL season.

Going into the final week of the 2008 season, the Eagles were all but dead in playoff contention. The Eagles not only needed to beat the Cowboys in Week 17, but they also needed Tampa Bay and Chicago to lose at home to sneak into the playoffs.

It all happened. The Eagles got in as the sixth seed and advanced to the NFC Championship Game before losing at Arizona.

"Three years ago in 2008, the way we got in was absolutely ridiculous," tight end Brent Celek said. "We had to have so many things happen. So we know that it is possible, but we have to take care of our own business if we want that to happen.

"But it still gives us a chance, which is good. That's all you can ask for when you're in this position."

Actually, it's far more than a 4-8 team should be able to ask for, but here it is.

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