The Eagles enter Week 17 with a very simply formula for getting back to the postseason. They need to beat the Redskins in Washington and hope the Chicago Bears beat Kirk Cousins and the Vikings in Minnesota.
Both games start at 4:25 pm on Sunday, so as the Eagles prepare to kick off against Washington, and as Minnesota takes the field against Chicago, neither team will know their playoff fate. It will be a dramatic and stress-filled afternoon for Birds fans, no doubt, especially those who have never been through something like this before.
However, there is some synergy to the Eagles’ situation. Here, in 2018, the Eagles need to win a Week 17 game and get some help in order to play bonus football. The team was in the same position 10 years ago, in 2008, and 30 years ago, in 1988, needing a win on the final week of the season and some help to get in.
And in both those cases, fortune smiled on Philadelphia.
1988 - Al Toon Saves The Day
Entering the final game of the season in Dallas against the 3-12 Cowboys, the 9-6 Eagles needed a victory and for the underdog New York Jets, who were 7-7-1 to beat their in-stadium rivals, the 10-5 New York Giants, in order to win the NFC East and reach the postseason.
Both games were 1:00 pm starts, and the Birds easily handled their business against the Cowboys 23-7.
As the game ended, the Jets-Giants match-up in New York was still finishing up, so the team returned to the locker room to see if the Jets could pull off the upset.
Is there anything better than Brent Musberger in his prime breathlessly giving an important sports update? No, there is not.
For Eagles fans of a certain generation, the name “Al Toon” became etched in Eagles legend.
So with their win and the Giants’ loss, the New York and Philly finished with a 10-6 record, but the Eagles won the tiebreaker and became NFC East champs. The following week, they would travel to Chicago to take on the Bears in the legendary Fog Bowl.
2008 - Destruction Of Dallas
In ‘08, the odds were even longer, but at least by kickoff, the Birds knew whether the game would mean anything or not.
Entering their 4:25 match-up with the Cowboys in Philly, the Eagles already had found out that the 7-8 Houston Texans had upset the 8-7 Chicago Bears and that the 4-11 Oakland Raiders, who were 13-point underdogs, had beaten the 8-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So all the Eagles needed to do, at 8-6-1 was beat the 8-7 Cowboys on their home turf. The hard part had been accomplished, the miracles had already come to pass.
We all know what happened next.
As the No. 6 seed, the odds were stacked against Philadelphia doing anything of significance in the postseason. But unlike 1988, the ‘08 miracle spawned a deep postseason run that saw the Eagles beat the Vikings in Minnesota in the wild card round and the No. 1 seed, 13-3 Giants in the Meadowlands.
Thankfully, they won the Super Bowl last year, so missing the postseason this year won’t be a killer, and these last few weeks have ended the season on an upswing and has at least made the team viable heading into the final week of the season.
We don’t know what the future holds for Sunday, but if the past is prologue, than that will mean good things for the Eagles.