“Because it is the Eagles and after the butt-kicking they gave us up in Philadelphia, I’m scared. It’s that kind of feeling. The respect turns into being afraid of what they can do to you if you have some breakdowns out there, so you can put that scared there if you want to. I think sometimes I know I do my best when I’m scared.” — Jerry Jones.
No one’s sure how the Philadelphia Eagles are alive, but they are, and they have a real chance to win the NFC East and earn the right to host a playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Pretty amazing considering how ugly the scene was at that very stadium three and a half weeks ago, when Philadelphians lambasted the team with boos and chanted for the firing of Andy Reid. And even earlier this month, it seemed the Eagles had given up on 2011 as they were dominated by the Seahawks on national television.
But suddenly, they’re the hottest team in the weakest division in football — weak enough that 8-8 might do the job.
And if the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants all finish with that record, guess who’s going to the playoffs? That’s right!
So, now Philadelphia just has to win out against the Cowboys Saturday and the Redskins in Week 17 and hope that the Jets beat the Giants in Week 16 before turning around and defeating Dallas in the season finale.
Crazily, the odds are almost in favor of all four of those things happening.
This week, the Jets are indeed a three-point favorite over the G-Men, while the Eagles will surely be faves at home against Washington and the Giants should be small faves at home against Dallas on the final Sunday of the season. That means that Vegas will probably lean the Eagles’ way in three of the four games that will decide their playoff fate.
The biggest obstacle as far as odds go is in Dallas this weekend. The Cowboys are a 1.5-point favorite right now, but the Eagles crushed Dallas earlier this season and beat the Cowboys in Texas last December.
Right now, the Eagles are healthier than the Giants and hotter than the Cowboys. New York appears to be fading after a flat effort against the Redskins, while Dallas has lost two of its three games in December, continuing a trend that has plagued the team in the Tony Romo era (they have 12 losses after Dec. 1 in the last five years).
Let’s suppose that the Giants lose to the Jets and then play spoiler at home in the finale. That might not happen, but indulge me. If that goes down, this will essentially be a playoff game. And right now, I’ll take Philly’s raging defense (13 sacks, three interceptions and four forced fumbles in the last two games) over the Cowboys’ red-hot offense (843 yards and 65 points in the last two games). Consider, too, that the Cowboys are playing bad defense, while Michael Vick is only getting healthier for Philly’s dangerous offense.
As per usual, Dallas might have peaked in November, while the Eagles seem to be peaking as we speak.
Technically, the Eagles have only an eight percent chance at making the playoffs, but that’s a number that doesn’t take intangibles and momentum into consideration. And if history has taught us anything, it’s that the Cowboys and Giants will probably find a way to blow it and the Eagles will somehow pull this off.
The dream isn’t over yet. Maybe it won’t be a nightmare after all.