The division remains the best and easiest route to an improbable Eagles playoff birth. However, wins by both the Giants and Cowboys this weekend will end the Eagles divisional chances. But what about the wild card?
The Eagles struggle to win tiebreakers in the wild card, due to head-to-head losses to the CHI, SEA and ARI. So, if DET is not involved in the tie, the Eagles will lose on Step 1 no matter how many teams are involved. However, DET's presence will allow a few select scenarios where other teams (namely CHI and ARI) reach 8-8, but the Eagles still win the multi-way tiebreaker.
Any of the following would eliminate PHI from the wild card (detailed reasoning given at end of post):
- PHI loses or ties any game
- DET win or tie
- CHI divisional win
- ARI beats SEA and wins another game
- SEA wins two games
- Eagles fail to win Strength of Victory tiebreaker with tied teams (DET or DET/ARI).
The main conclusions one can draw from this:
- The Eagles wild card chances are improved by a Bears win on Sunday. This is perhaps counterintuitive. (Again, see reasoning for details.)
- If both SEA and ARI win at least one game before week 17, the Eagles only wild card chance lies in a week 17 tie between SEA and ARI.
- The Eagles will not be eliminated at 4:15PM kickoff. Although, one wonders if anyone in the team (or even the media) will comprehend this. Granted, if SEA beats CHI, their wild card chances are reduced to a 12-team parlay: 3 PHI wins, 3 DET losses, 2 CHI divisional losses, 2 SEA losses, 2 ARI AFC losses. (Again, barring a tie in SEA/ARI, which would free ARI up to win 1 game.)
(1) Of course, PHI loss or tie means DET's 8 wins are uncatchable.
(2) Also, of course, DET win or tie means that PHI's best-case 8 wins are not good enough. If PHI is lucky enough to get to a one-on-one tiebreaker with DET, common opponents and conference record will both be tied, meaning strength of victory will be decisive.
(3) Remember, the NFL breaks divisional ties first before comparing teams from different divisions. If CHI beats DET in the divisional tiebreaker, PHI can no longer win any 8-8 wild card ties as they will have been (miserably) sweep by every imaginable team. If CHI wins a divisional game, they will hold the 8-8 tiebreaker over DET. Even though divisional record and common opponents are tied, CHI would win on conference record. However, if CHI's lone win comes against SEA, DET will win the 8-8 tiebreaker on Div. record.
(4) If ARI beats SEA and enters the PHI-DET-ARI 8-8 tiebreaker, they will win based on conference record. However, if their 2 wins come against CLE and CIN, the PHI-DET-ARI 8-8 tie is deadlocked on conference record, and falls to strength of victory.
(5) If SEA is 8-8 and are ahead of ARI (either outright or on tiebreaker), their conference record will be superior to PHI and DET and will win the tiebreaker. The only way SEA goes 8-8 and loses the divisional tiebreaker is if they lose to ARI, in which case PHI is out based on (4). So, in any case, 2 SEA wins eliminates PHI.
(6a) If PHI wins out, DET loses out and CHI loses the two divisional games (if any of this doesn't happen, the Eagles will never make it to the Strength of Victory tiebreaker), the situation is: PHI's beaten opponents combined record: 43-66. DET's beaten opponent's combined record: 41-68. Currently a slight edge to the Eagles. If Strength of Victory is tied, DET likely wins the next tiebreaker, Strength of Schedule
(6b) If PHI wins out, DET loses out, CHI loses the two divisional games, ARI goes WWL and SEA goes LLW (this is the only possible scenario where PHI has a chance in the PHI-DET-ARI tiebreaker), the situation is PHI's beaten opponents = 43-66. DET's beaten opponents = 42-68. ARI's beaten opponents = 45-66. Very close.