There are certain things one can always count on in the month of December:
1) Overcrowded shopping malls.
2) Hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” on the radio.
3) Being asked 623 times “So are ya finished your Christmas shopping?”
4) Santa sliding down the chimney to deliver presents.
5) The Cowboys sliding down the NFC East standings as Tony Romo delivers another fatal interception.
Once again, just around the time that the Christmas trees are decorated and the eggnog is flowing freely, the Cowboys began to freefall, going from a contender to a pretender. Last week, the ‘Boys held a commanding 26-3 lead over Green Bay at halftime, only to have it slip away when Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw not one, but two game-changing interceptions, eventually leading to a 37-36 fall from ahead defeat.
The last two seasons, it has been the Giants and Redskins, respectively, that have won the division as a result of the Cowboys implosion, and this year looks to be the Eagles turn as they try to make the playoffs in Chip Kelly’s first season, a feat that even the “Ghost of Christmas Future” could not foretell.
Don’t know what it is that has cursed Tony Romo…the guy puts up good numbers and can throw 5-6 touchdowns in a game, yet he’ll throw an interception at the most inopportune time, eventually leading to a Cowboys loss.
Back in 2006, the Cowboys were a chip shot field goal away from winning a wildcard playoff game on the road against the Seattle Seahawks when Romo, who was then the holder on field goals and extra points as well, botched the snap, leading to a Cowboys playoff loss in his 1st year as the Cowboys starter. Who would have known then that Romo and the Cowboys would amass only one playoff win in the next six seasons?
Perhaps it’s the ghosts of “Cowboys past” that are cursing Jerry Jones and trying to get him to see the error of his ways in remaining the general manager of his football team. It was Jones, after all, who caused former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, the only successful coach he’s had to date, to depart Dallas. The only thing bigger than Jerry Jones ego is his stadium, and while it may hold all the technological bells and whistles, it is an awful place for the average fan to actually watch live action, and doesn’t hold any ground when compared to Lincoln Financial Field.
Meanwhile, back at Broad & Pattison, the Eagles were very much in the holiday spirit last week, as they gift wrapped a win for the Vikings. And while Minnesota’s record was nothing to write home about, Eagles play-by-play man Merrill Reese made an interesting observation before kickoff last week that if a football game lasted 59 minutes instead of 60, the Vikings would have been 8-5 instead of 3-9-1. This wasn’t the Houston Texans the Eagles were facing but a team that had played it close for most of their games and, if taken lightly, had the ability to beat you. And they did just that.
But with the Cowboys loss, the Eagles received their own Christmas present of sorts, and with it, a chance to clinch the NFC East this Sunday with a Cowboys loss to the Redskins Sunday afternoon followed by an Eagles win over the Bears on Sunday night.
If both teams have something to play for, it could be a tight, close game, but by Sunday night, either one or both teams could be resting their starters for a game that might end up meaning very little (wonder if the boys over at NBC thought this one through before they flexed this into the Sunday night game).
Here are the up-to-date, and now limited, playoff scenarios for the Birds:
– They cannot get a wild card spot, which goes to the #5 & #6 seed.
– They can only get into the playoffs as a division winner, which would give them either the #3 or #4 seed, depending on what the record of the NFC North winner is. They cannot move up enough to capture the #1 or #2 seed (and the 1st round bye that comes with them).
– A Cowboys win against the Redskins and the Eagles would have to beat Dallas the last week of the season to win the division, no matter what happens this Sunday night. In that case, a loss against the Bears would make it likely that the Birds would become the #4 seed instead of #3.
– For the Bears, a Lions loss against the Giants and a Packers win against the Steelers (both played on Sunday afternoon) would render the Eagles game meaningless for the same reason, as the Bears would need to defeat the Packers the following week to win their division, regardless of what they do against the Eagles.
– If the game ends up meaningless for both teams, the only thing the outcome would affect is the seeding between #3 & #4…got that??
I actually think the game will mean something for the Eagles, as the Redskins, with Kurt Cousins at quarterback, will come through and defeat the Cowboys, followed by the Birds defeating the Bears, 27-16, and giving Eagles fans an early Christmas present and an NFC East title in Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach. If that scenario plays through, Chip Kelly will indeed be Santa Claus for the next two weeks…
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the week (all times in EST and on Sunday unless otherwise noted):
Colts at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS – While both of these teams have already clinched playoff spots, the Chiefs still have a shot at winning their division and getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Colts still have an outside shot at a 1st round bye.
Saints at Panthers 1:00 PM FOX – A win would give the Saints the NFC South title and a 1st round bye in the playoffs. A Panthers win would put them in the drivers seat for the same, though they would still need a win or a Saints loss the following week as well. The Saints are an offensive juggernaut when they are playing at home, but unfortunately, this game is in Carolina.
Cardinals at Seahawks 4:05 PM FOX – A win would give the Seahawks home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. While the Cardinals future is bright under new head coach Bruce Arians, they still need some help to make the playoffs in 2013.
Patriots at Ravens 4:25 PM CBS – With neither team having clinched a playoff spot yet, and playoff seeding still in the air, this should be a dandy.
Bears at Eagles 8:30 PM NBC – While this game is currently a marquee matchup, that could change before kickoff based on how other games pan out.
The Last Word – With Christmas fast approaching, just remember – if Grandma has been drinking too much eggnog, just tell her not to go. And make sure she doesn’t forget her medication, and stagger out the door into the snow…