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NFC Playoff Picture 2013: Eagles Still in First Place of the NFC East

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

The Philadelphia Eagles broke even on Sunday. Early in the day, the Eagles suffered a 48-30 loss to the Vikings that ended their five game winning streak. Philly fell to 8-6. The Eagles' loss also gave their division rivals, the Cowboys, a chance to catch up. Instead of capitalizing on that opportunity, Dallas lost to Green Bay with a score of 37-36. The Packers came up big, aided by a pair of vintage Tony Romo interceptions late in the fourth quarter, and won the game. The Cowboys are now 7-7. The Eagles retained their first place spot in the NFC East.

Now it's time to take a look at what this means for the rest of the season:

A wildcard spot is officially no longer in play for the Eagles. The 49ers/Saints/Panthers are fighting for those spots. The Eagles' chances at a first round bye were already slim, but they have also been officially eliminated from that possibility as well. The only way for the Eagles to earn a playoff berth now is by winning the NFC East outright.

Here's how the NFC East shapes up after Sunday's results (every NFCE team lost):

First place: Eagles (8-6)
Second place: Cowboys (7-7)
Who cares: Giants (5-9)
Last place: Redskins (3-12)

Dallas losing today is great news for the Eagles. Worst case scenario, the Eagles will be playing for the division lead in the Week 17 season finale in Dallas. The Eagles magic number is two. Philadelphia can clinch the NFC East as soon as Sunday, December 22, 2013 (next week) as long as:

1) The Cowboys lose to the Redskins.

AND

2) The Eagles beat the Bears on Sunday Night Football.

That's the ideal situation for Philadelphia. Otherwise, if the Cowboys beat the Redskins, the Eagles-Bears game becomes virtually meaningless except for potential playoff seeding purposes. A Cowboys win next week guarantees a meaningful Eagles-Cowboys contest in Week 17. It's not enough for the Eagles to be only one game ahead of the Cowboys heading into the finale because if the Cowboys win both teams would have the same record, and Dallas owns the tiebreaker. If the Eagles don't clinch the division in Week 16, it's up for the Eagles to beat the Cowboys in the finale in order to win the division and make the playoffs.

The Eagles' 48-30 loss to the Vikings on Sunday was a big disappointment, but the Eagles are still very much in this playoff race. They control their own destiny without only two games to go.