After the Eagles pummeled the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day to commence the tough 3-game stretch that would supposedly define their season, many Eagles fans were having visions of a Super Bowl appearance dancing in their heads.
But after back-to-back losses against the Seahawks and Cowboys (two teams that are vying with the Birds for a playoff spot and preferable seeding), Eagles fans could find themselves with only a stack of coal in their football stocking come Christmas morning.
Last Sunday, they were repeatedly fed a stack of “Dez”, as in Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who ran roughshot down the field multiple times and basically treated Birds cornerback Bradley Fletcher as if he was a harmless ragdoll standing in his way.
Dallas made up for its lopsided loss at the hands of the Birds down in Dallas and let it be known that if they are to partake in another December swoon, it would not be occurring this easily or quickly. Unlike the Eagles win down in Dallas, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked healthier, had ten days to prepare as opposed to three, and showed that given time, he can tear up the Eagles secondary, which is the major component that will likely keep the Birds from obtaining any kind of elite status this season.
And of course, there is the matter of the quarterback situation, which neither the ghosts of Christmas present or Christmas future really seem to have an answer for.
While Mark Sanchez’s mobility adds another element to the passing game (an element that Nick Foles does not possess), both quarterbacks were turning the ball over more than needed to win in this league. But to Nick’s credit, when he wasn’t turning the ball over once or twice a game, he was actually making accurate throws, a trait that Sanchez displayed in his first few starts but has now been lost over the last few weeks.
The Eagles didn’t lose last Sunday because the Cowboys possess a great defense and there was nowhere to throw. On many occasions, Sanchez had receivers open throughout the game and simply was off target or just didn’t see them. More and more, it is becoming evident that his tenure with the Eagles will be a short one, as he is not the kind of player who can consistently play to a high level week after week. When Sanchez’s playing career does eventually come to an end though, he could probably become a public relations “guru” for any NFL team, as he handles the media like an all-pro quarterback should. If only he could play like one too…
This week, the Birds get somewhat of a respite, as after facing the Cowboys-Seahawks-Cowboys over the last three weeks, they now face the lowly Washington Redskins, who seem to display more gridlock and turmoil than their capital counterparts over in the halls of Congress. If you think our quarterback situation is uncertain for the future, the Redskins drafted two young quarterbacks in 2012 (Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins) with the 2nd and the 102nd overall pick, respectively, and neither of them seem to be primed to hold the job for the long term. The Redskins also acquired Colt McCoy, who was a 3rd round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2010, but he isn’t the answer either.
At this point, the ‘Skins are probably looking just to finish off their season and make plans for New Years Eve in a few weeks, so this game SHOULD be an easy one, as long as the Eagles aren’t thinking about last minute Christmas shopping deals while running around on the field.
With last week’s loss, the Eagles find themselves no longer in control of their destiny, and will need help from other teams if they are to be invited to the NFL’s playoff party which begins Jan. 3rd. So without further ado, here are the various playoff possibilities for the team (have your abacus and calculus calculator ready):
1) Birds need to win one more game than the Cowboys the rest of the regular season. Problem is, there are only two games remaining. Should that happen (which could occur this week with Dallas facing the Colts), the Eagles would still win their division and host a 1st round playoff game. This is the easiest and best case scenario.
2) If the Eagles don’t win their division, they can still get in as a wildcard team, but would need to win both of their remaining games against the ‘Skins and Giants, while one of the following three teams (Seahawks, Packers, Lions) need to lose BOTH of their last two games.
Which of these is the most likely? The Lions and Packers face each other in the last game of the season in Green Bay, so one of them will definitely have one loss (barring a tie). The Lions face the Bears, who will be starting Jimmy Clausen instead of Jay Cutler, on the road this Sunday, while the Packers will be facing Tampa on the road and looking to rebound after last week’s loss to the Bills.
Assuming the Packers beat the Lions in their last game of the season, we should be rooting heavily for the Bears this Sunday, but they are about as done as the Redskins, and probably have a better chance with Jimmy Dean at quarterback.
The Seahawks face the Cardinals on the road this week, but even if they lose that game to a backup quarterback, they end the season at home against the Rams, a probable win. All said, the wildcard is a long shot, but then again, stranger things have happened before (for reference, see Eagles entrance to the playoffs in 2008).
Birds win this Saturday, 35-14, and then we sit back on Sunday and become Bears, Buccaneers, Cardinals, and most importantly, Colts fans…
Amit’s Top 5 Power Rankings:
1. Broncos (1)
2. Patriots (2)
3. Seahawks (4)
4. Cardinals (3)
5. Packers (5)
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):
Chiefs at Steelers 1:00 PM CBS
Colts at Cowboys 4:25 PM CBS
Seahawks at Cardinals 8:30 PM NBC – Game of the Week
Broncos at Bengals 8:30 PM ESPN