NFC Playoff Picture 2013: 49ers, Cowboys stand in the way of the Eagles playoff hopes

Jed Jacobsohn

The Eagles control their own destiny, but could see a backup plan through the wild card.

The last quarter of the NFL season will determine whether or not the Eagles make it to the postseason. Quite simply, the Eagles need to keep winning to make it to the playoffs. If they win-out and complete an eight-game winning steak, they are guaranteed their first playoff appearance since 2010. While the Eagles schedule features four winnable games, it is always good to have a backup plan.

The 49ers are currently the only team standing in the way of the Eagles making the wild card spot. San Francisco's outlook for the rest of the season features two tough matchups and two games that they will be heavily favored to win. If the 49ers were to go 2-2 and the Eagles were to go 3-1, Philadelphia would win the final wild card spot. That forecast is very possible given both teams' schedules moving forward.

Obviously, the ideal scenario is to win the division. The Cowboys have a very favorable schedule until Week 17 against the Eagles, which will likely decide the division. If Dallas wins their next three games, the Eagles will have to win on the final Sunday of the season. The Cowboys own the tiebreaker against the Eagles, so Philadelphia needs separation to increase their chances.

Here is a look at the 49ers, Cowboys and Eagles schedules moving forward:

49ers Cowboys Eagles
Week 14 vs. Seahawks at Bears vs. Lions
Week 15 at Buccaneers vs. Packers at Vikings
Week 16 vs. Falcons at Redskins vs. Bears
Week 17 at Cardinals vs. Eagles at Cowboys

As you can see, all three teams have two home and two away games moving forward. All 12 games are within the NFC and the 49ers have two three-win teams left to play. However, San Francisco has the Seahawks (10-1) up next and close out against the Cardinals, who will want to secure a playoff spot or play spoiler to their hated rivals. On paper, the 49ers have the worst bookend matchups.

The Cowboys will face a tough challenge with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in Week 14 in Chicago, no matter who the quarterback will be. That is the most likely loss for Dallas, outside of Week 17. The Redskins are still left for the Cowboys, which will be dangerous for them. Mike Shanahan will want that game badly and it will be in Washington. Week 16's game could be a massive trap game for Dallas. Also, remember that if Aaron Rodgers returns by Week 15, the Cowboys will also have to deal with him and the Packers full-fledged offense as well.

The Eagles have a lot of "toss up" games. The Vikings could be a trap on the road, while the Lions and Bears have wide receivers that could easily do well against Philadelphia's NFL-worst pass defense. The Eagles must refuse to look ahead as Chip Kelly preaches, as the Eagles can score on all four teams and their defense has faced more formidable offenses, but they need to stay focused. This is a young Eagles team and they need to have their heads on straight in December.

The final four weeks could not be more important and there is a chance that the Eagles could be a division winner or a wild card entrant into the playoffs. It is all on the team to remain victorious moving forward, but some help from outside of Lincoln Financial Field should always be welcomed. For the next few weeks, the 49ers are another one of the Eagles hated rivals and the Cowboys will continue to be the target on December 29th.

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