Eagles control playoff fate
DEPENDING ON your level of faith, the Eagles have either raised your spirits or extended your misery. The thing the Birds left no doubt about with their 23-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field is that they remain firmly entrenched in the hunt for the NFC East title and the playoff spot that goes along with winning it.
DEPENDING ON your level of faith, the Eagles have either raised your spirits or extended your misery.
The thing the Birds left no doubt about with their 23-20 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field is that they remain firmly entrenched in the hunt for the NFC East title and the playoff spot that goes along with winning it.
Despite the Eagles following up last week's surprising win in New England with a another victory over an AFC East opponent, we won't even go back down the road of whether this is a turning point or not. At this stage, the only guarantee is that at 6-7 the Eagles are tied at the top of the NFC East with Washington (6-7) - a 24-21 winner at Chicago on Sunday.
The New York Giants can make it a three-way tie by beating Miami on Monday night.
If you think making the playoffs is meaningless because the Eagles are simply going to get smacked around in the first round and sent packing, their staying alive is probably annoying.
It would have been less chaotic had the Birds let you dismiss yourself from this roller-coaster season.
Instead, they keep you sucked in because despite their record, the Eagles have as good a chance of making the playoffs as Washington or the Giants.
Even if you want to get out, the Eagles' circumstance won't let you.
Personally, I'm always in favor of making the playoffs no matter how bleak things may look going into them.
The last two Super Bowl wins by the New York Giants are the perfect example of how anything can happen once you get into the playoffs.
The one thing that is certain is that if the Eagles don't qualify for the playoffs they have zero chance of pulling off some kind of postseason miracle.
As bizarre as it may sound, the Birds are in the unbelievable position of controlling their own fate.
The Eagles lost their third straight when Detroit stuffed them like turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. The Birds yielded 90 total points in back-to-back losses to the Lions and Buccaneers.
They appeared dead and seemed as fractured as they had ever been during the tenure of coach Chip Kelly.
Now, the Eagles only need wins over the Redskins and Giants to clinch the division.
"It doesn't mean anything unless we keep winning," Eagles center Jason Kelce said, echoing the constant message of his coach.
That is true, but suddenly the prize for doing so has gotten bigger and is within arm's reach.
If the Eagles beat Washington the day after Christmas and win at the Giants on Jan. 3, they take the NFC East and will host a playoff game.
Now, much of that is due to the sorry state of the division, but that still is about as much of a 180-degree turn as a team can make in the span of two weeks.
After a disastrous November when they lost three of four games, the Eagles are 2-0 in December.
If a team with playoff aspirations is going to put together a winning streak, this would be the time to do it.
"We're taking every week as 1-0 and trying to make it to the next week," said Eagles safety Ed Reynolds, who sealed the win over Buffalo with a late interception. "This is the final stretch and the last quarter of the season.
"It's good for us to keep this momentum going. We'll celebrate this win and then come Tuesday, we'll get ready for Arizona."
As we have seen all season, consecutive wins don't mean much because the Eagles could just as quickly revert back to the duds they've been for most of the season.
Let's not pretend they have not earned their 6-7 record.
Still, opportunity is exactly that, and the Eagles have a big one in front of them.
"I don't know about that," Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said of whether it feels like a playoff atmosphere. "It felt like we won against a pretty decent football team.
"I said last week that we were trying to approach this game like we did against the Patriots. We tried to sustain momentum whenever we got it.
"I think we did it. It wasn't pretty at the end, but somehow we were able to come away with a win."
That can be the mantra for the Eagles over the next three weeks.
The goal is to make the playoffs, not necessarily to worry about how good you look while getting there.
Whether it makes sense or not, the Eagles are alive in the playoff race, and because they are, they will drag us down the road with them - whether we prefer to continue on or not.