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NFL Playoff Picture: Eagles need to beat the Cowboys at home

The Eagles lost to the Seahawks, but the season is far from over.

Evan Habeeb/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles missed out on a big opportunity on Sunday. Not only would have beating the Seattle Seahawks made a statement, but more importantly it would have put their chances of earning a first round bye near 74%. The Eagles' loss, combined with an Arizona Cardinals win over the Kansas City Chiefs, dropped their first round bye odds down to 12.7%. It's unlikely the Eagles can earn a bye now.

Take a look at the current NFC playoff standings.

Assuming the Green Bay Packers beat the Atlanta Falcons at home on Monday Night Football, which seems like a safe bet, the Eagles will be one whole game behind the top two seeds with only three games to go. The Eagles lost to both of those teams earlier in the season so they would lose out on head-to-head tiebreakers if they finish with the same record. The same goes for the Seahawks if Arizona falters and Seattle rises to the top.

With this is mind, the Eagles are obviously still very much alive for the playoffs. Their 9-4 record, along with a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Dallas Cowboys, currently puts them as they No. 3 seed in the NFC. The Eagles can't drop to the No. 4 seed because that will belong to the winner of the terrible NFC South, which the 5-7 Falcons lead.

The Eagles will put their division lead on the line this week when they play the Cowboys for the second time in just 17 days. Philadelphia put a 33-10 beat down on Dallas when the teams played on Thanksgiving. Short rest was a factor for both teams last time since it was a Thursday game, but this time the Cowboys have the benefit of extra rest from having played their last game on Thursday, December 4.

An Eagles win over the Cowboys would put the Birds at 10-4 and Dallas at 9-5 with just two games remaining. In that case, the Eagles would need to merely win one more of their remaining two games against the Washington Redskins or New York Giants to clinch the NFC East. Alternatively, a single Dallas loss to either the Indianapolis Colts or Washington would knock them out even if the Eagles failed to win their final two games.

An Eagles loss to the Cowboys would complicate things. The Birds would have to win their final two games to finish at 11-5 while hoping Dallas loses at least one of their final two games to also finish at 11-5 or worse.

If all else fails, the Eagles could earn a wildcard spot. Assuming the Eagles lose to the Cowboys and Dallas clinches the NFC East, Philadelphia would need to hope for the Detroit Lions to lose two of their final three games (Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers) while the Eagles win their final two contests. The Eagles would likely finish as the No. 6 seed in that scenario because the No. 5 seed will likely be Seattle or Arizona, who both own tiebreakers over Philly.

The Eagles can avoid relying on other teams to help their playoff chances by beating the Cowboys this Sunday. While Philadelphia does seem to match up well with their division rival, Dallas will be hungry for revenge. It's up to the Eagles to rebound from their Week 14 loss and get the job done.

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