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Q&A: Eagles playoff scenarios

With all but one Week 16 game in he books, here's what the Eagles' playoff scenarios look like.

Here's an updated Q&A on the Eagles' playoff scenarios following the Saints' win against the Falcons Monday night.

Q: Can the Eagles still earn the top seed in the NFC?

A: Yes, but it's a longshot. There are two scenarios. The first one requires four things to happen:

1. Eagles beat Vikings and Cowboys.
2. Saints lose to Bucs in Week 17.
3. Falcons lose to Panthers in Week 17.
4. Bears lose to Packers in Week 17.

In this scenario, the Eagles and Falcons both finish at 12-4, and the Eagles get the tiebreak since they beat Atlanta earlier this season.

The second scenario plays out if the Bears beat the Packers and create a three-way tie of 12-4 teams (Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia). If that happens, the Eagles would FIRST need three things to happen:

1. Eagles beat Vikings and Cowboys.
2. Saints lose to Bucs in Week 17.
3. Falcons lose to Panthers in Week 17.

However, even if those three things happen, the Eagles ARE NOT guaranteed the top spot.

The head-to-head tiebreak would be irrelevant because the Falcons and Bears didn't play each other. Conference win-loss percentage is the next step, but all three teams would be 9-3 against the NFC.

Next up would be win-loss percentage in common games, but there needs to be a minimum of four common games between the three teams, which there are not.

And so it would come down to strength of victory - a tiebreak that cannot yet be determined because Week 17 has to play out. In other words, you'd take the combined win-loss records of the teams that the Eagles, Bears and Falcons each beat this season. The team with lowest opponents' win-percentage gets bounced, and the other two teams run through the set of tiebreakers again.

I know, it's confusing. My head almost exploded this morning trying to figure it out. Basically, you want to root for teams the Eagles have beaten this season to win in Week 17. And you want to root for teams the Bears and Falcons have beaten this season to lose in Week 17.

Now would be a good time to mention that both the above scenarios count on the 2-13 Panthers beating the Falcons. In other words, you probably just wasted three minutes of your life. But people have been asking about those scenarios, so I provided them.

It's important to note here that if the Saints, Falcons, Eagles and Bears all finish 12-4, the Saints get the one-seed, the Bears get the two-seed, the Eagles get the three-seed and the Falcons get the fifth-seed (as the top wild card). I originally had this scenario incorrect in my post earlier this week. Thanks to those who pointed out the error.

Q: How do the Eagles earn the two-seed?

A: This one's easy. Two things need to happen:

1. Eagles beat Vikings and Cowboys.
2. Bears lose to Packers.

That's the only scenario. Both Eagles-Cowboys and Packers-Bears are 4:15 starts so the Birds won't know if their game against Dallas has meaning or not beforehand. The Packers-Bears game is in Green Bay, where the Packers are 6-1 this season.

Q: What's the worst the Eagles can finish?

A: The three-seed, which ensures them at least a home playoff game in the wild-card round. The top four seeds go to division winners, and the Birds cannot finish with a worse record than the NFC West winner.

Q: If the Eagles are the three-seed, who are their potential first-round opponents?

A: It comes down to three: the Packers, Giants or Bucs.

The Eagles cannot under any circumstance face the Saints in the wild-card round because New Orleans can finish no lower than the No. 5 seed.

Whichever team out of the Packers, Giants and Bucs makes the playoffs will be the No. 6 seed.

If the Giants get in, they will face the Eagles in the first round. The Giants need to beat the Redskins and get a Packers loss against the Bears to get in.

The Packers control their fate, needing only a win against Chicago to get in.

And the Bucs need to beat the Saints, while also having the Giants and Packers lose.

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