'Long shot' Eagles still in NFL playoff picture, even if Doug Pederson doesn't sound convinced

Sporting News

The Eagles lost to a two-win Dolphins team Sunday when they had a chance to tie the Cowboys for the NFC East lead.

After the game, Birds coach Doug Pederson didn't seem to grasp immediately that his team, somehow, controlled its destiny.

"As crazy as this is, I would say it's a long shot, but we're not out of it," he told reporters.

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It isn't that long of a shot. To elaborate: The Eagles are 5-7. The Cowboys are 6-6. That's a one-game difference with four weeks to play, and there's a head-to-head matchup in Philly in Week 16.

Sorry, coach, please continue:

"We do have four of our division opponents coming up," he said, perhaps trying to talk himself into believing.

Yes, let's talk about that division. It's the very bad NFC East, which is being held up by the Redskins and Giants, who are a combined 5-19. The Eagles play the Giants twice and the Redskins once in addition to the Cowboys in the final quarter of the season. A 4-0 finish gets the Eagles to 9-7 overall and 5-1 in the division (and a split in the season series with Dallas). Assuming the Cowboys also finish 9-7/5-1, then the next tiebreaker would be common opponents.

Here the advantage goes the Eagles. Philadelphia would be 8-4 against common foes to the Cowboys' 7-5.

Putting all the math aside, playing the Giants and Redskins is about the easiest road a desperate team can have to the playoffs. Of course, a trip to Miami Gardens was considered easy, too, but still.

And if the Birds CAN'T run the table with that slate, then Pederson should be in danger of dismissal. One way he could leave the facility: on foot, which is how one group of fans wanted the team to return from South Florida on Sunday. The group went so far as to petition . . . someone to force the Birds to make a lonnnng walk of shame home.

A lot of Eagles ought to be feeling shame if they stumble at any point in the next four weeks.

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