Here's how Eagles make playoffs, or - heaven forbid - don't
A look at all the ways the Eagles will reach the playoffs, plus a couple of worst-case scenarios in which they miss out.
THE EAGLES' crushing victory over Dallas left us Birds fans giddy with visions of the Super Bowl dancing in our heads. It made for an incredibly fun Thanksgiving weekend.
But, as usual, our pessimistic side has crept back in. People have been stopping me on the street (under the misguided view that I know what I'm talking about) and asking, will we get home field advantage? Will we win the division? Are we certain to make the playoffs? WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?
That phrase made me think back to my days as a law student, when I lived alone in an attic apartment on 22nd Street and a hit song of that era was, "Worst That Could Happen." The song was sung from the viewpoint of a scorned lover who heard his one and only was marrying someone else. The refrain went, "Maybe it's the best thing for you, but it's the worst that could happen to me!"
So for all of you Eagles fans who were born pessimistic, I want to give you my view on the various scenarios that could unfold over the next 4 weeks and how they affect our beloved Eagles' chances of making it to Arizona in February. For this exercise, I am making the following assumptions: That New Orleans will win the pathetic NFC South with a 7-9 record. That Green Bay will run the table, including a win over the Lions in Week 17, and finish 13-3. That Dallas, which is now 9-4, will lose to Indianapolis and beat Washington. That Detroit will win its next three, but lose to Green Bay and finish 11-5 (the Lions have been shaky lately, but besides Green Bay, they play Tampa Bay and Minnesota at home, and Chicago on the road). That Arizona will lose three of its final four and finish 10-6. That Seattle will win the last three games on its schedule and finish with 11 or 12 wins, depending on what they do against the Eagles. And lastly, that San Francisco will win three of its last four, losing only at Seattle to finish 10-6.
* Scenario No. 1: The very worst that could happen. The Eagles lose their last four games and finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs entirely. Only an insanely pessimistic Birds fan can believe this will happen. It would be the worst Eagles collapse since the Rich Kotite-led Birds, who started out 7-2 and finished 7-9. In fact, I am so confident that it won't, that, if it does, I will dress as a court jester and spend 2 hours singing "Hail to the Redskins" in the City Hall Courtyard!
* Scenario No. 2: The Eagles lose to Seattle and Dallas, get upset by the Giants but beat the Redskins to finish 10-6. In this scenario, we would miss the playoffs despite a 10-6 record, because Detroit at 11-5 would get the first wild card, Seattle at 12-4 wins the West, Dallas at 11-5 wins the East, and both San Francisco and Arizona at 10-6 would hold the tiebreaker for the second wild-card spot over the Eagles because of their head-to-head wins against us. This is slightly more plausible, so I won't sing "Hail to the Redskins" at City Hall for 2 hours, but if it happens, I will dress up as a jester and post a photo on my website. So relax, this is not very likely.
* Scenario No. 3: The Birds lose the tough games to Seattle and Dallas and sweep the Giants and Redskins to finish 11-5. The Lions would win the first wild-card position because of a better NFC Conference record, and we will stagger into the second wild card, ensuring that our road to the Super Bowl would require three road victories. So we would make the playoffs, but have an almost impossible path to the Super Bowl. Stranger things have happened, but the idea of the Birds' reaching the Super Bowl with wins at Seattle and Green Bay seems unfathomable.
* Scenario No. 4: The Eagles beat Seattle, New York and Washington and lose to Dallas to finish at 12-4. Great news! We win the division (even if Dallas doesn't lose to Indy and finishes 12-4, too, because of our superior division record), and because we beat Seattle, we will be at home against everyone except the Pack. Notwithstanding the drubbing they gave us at Lambeau a few weeks ago, in a single road game for all the marbles and with the revenge factor in play, I give Chip Kelly's team a real chance.
* Scenario No. 5: The Eagles win all their remaining games to finish 13-3. Sadly, despite this magnificent feat, nothing changes from Scenario No. 4 because the Packers will have the same record and will get home field because of their head-to-head win over us.
* Scenario No. 6: The Packers lose to the Lions to finish 12-4. We are at 13-3 and the Eagles would host every single one of their playoff games. This would be pure divine intervention and an alignment of stars that would make a Super Bowl berth seem predestined. If this farfetched scenario comes to fruition, I'll see many of you in Arizona, and if the circus atmosphere we brought to Jacksonville in '05 is any indication, a good number of you will be dressed like court jesters.
On Twitter: @GovEdRendell