Eagles: NFC playoff picture, division race coming into focus

Bryce Brown Eagles Eagles running back Bryce Brown plows over Detroit’s Chris Houston in the snow last Sunday. Credit: Getty Images

The majority of Eagles fans know better than to get ahead of themselves, but this week in particular, it’s quite alright to feel some gratification. The Birds are the hottest team in football, winners of five in a row and not having lost since Oct. 27. Thanks to the Bears’ 45-28 thumping of the Cowboys Monday night, the Eagles are now in sole possession of first place in the ragged NFC East.

The fun should, on paper of course, be extended yet another week as the Eagles face something resembling a cakewalk against the 3-9-1 Vikings in Minnesota Sunday (1 p.m., FOX). The Cowboys, now a full game back in the division race, have a tougher challenge as they take on the 6-6-1 Packers at home.

The following weekend, the favorable matchup goes to the Cowboys, who will take on the 3-10 Redskins. Meanwhile, NBC has picked up on just how big of a game the Dec. 22 Bears at Eagles game will be as it ditched Patriots-Ravens in favor of a primetime showdown in Philly.

This all leads to Week 17, when the Eagles will face the Cowboys in Dallas. There are several scenarios in which the game would be meaningless, however If the Eagles go 2-0 and the Cowboys go 1-1 or the Eagles go 1-1 and the Cowboys go 0-2 in the next two games, the Eagles would have already clinched.

But if both the Eagles and Cowboys go 2-0 over the next two games, Week 17 would still matter due to Dallas owning the tie-breaker, having won the only previous meeting this season (17-3 in Week 7). The worst-case scenario for the Eagles over next two games (Eagles 0-2, Cowboys 2-0) would also make Week 17 trivial, given Dallas’ tie-breaker advantage due to division record.

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