By Pete Baxter
If I had even asked this question just one month ago, I would have appeared clinically insane. How quickly things can change in the “any given Sunday” landscape of professional football. One month ago, the Eagles were coming off a tough 33-22 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. This brought their record down to an abysmal 2-5, and the reality of a long rebuilding season was setting in.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys were 5-1 . They were on their way to a six-game winning streak, with the entire rest of the NFC East disappearing into the rearview.
Now, on the backside of Thanksgiving, the Eagles are surging. Philly has won three of their last four games and are sitting at 5-6. They have corrected Nick Sirianni’s play calling woes that cursed their early season, and now find themselves averaging over 200 yards rushing per game over that span. Meanwhile Jalen Hurts leads the NFL in QBR over the past four weeks. The Eagles are looking like a playoff team, right in the thick of the race for a wild card seed.
While the Cowboys are still in control of the division, as dominant as they looked in the early weeks of the season, they are stumbling down the stretch. The Cowboys have lost three of their last four games. They look undisciplined under Mike McCarthy’s leadership. Dallas gave up 166 yards on 14 penalties against the Raiders on Thanksgiving (including four pass interference calls on Anthony Brown, including a hugely impactful one in overtime). The defense has taken a step back in recent weeks. They are trending in an exact opposite trajectory of their division rivals in Philly.
That said, the Cowboys will be getting their top two receiving weapons in Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb back in week 13. Ezekiel Elliot should get healthy. Hopefully for Cowboys’ fans, this is rock bottom.
That said, currently two games back in the NFC East, can the Eagles catch the Cowboys with six games left in the season?
Let’s take a look at each team’s remaining matchups, and the most likely outcome of their remaining schedules.
Dallas Cowboys‘ Remaining Schedule
Week 13: At New Orleans Saints. Most likely result: Cowboys win. The Trevor Siemian-led (or maybe Taysom Hill-led?) Saints will be no match for Dallas, who should have Amari Cooper back in the mix. Record: 8-4.
Week 14: At Washington Football Team. Most likely result: Cowboys win. Taylor Heinicke and company don’t fare any better, the Cowboys win two in a row. Record: 9-4.
Week 15: At New York Giants. Most likely result: Cowboys win. The reeling Giants give the Cowboys their third win in a row. Record: 10-4.
Week 16: Home against Washington Football Team. Most likely result: Cowboys win. Easy win at home. Keep the streak alive. Record: 11-4.
Week 17: Home against Arizona Cardinals. Most likely result: Cardinals win. The Cowboys finally face a challenging match up and fall short against Arizona. Record: 11-5.
Week 18: At Philadelphia Eagles. Most likely result: Eagles win. The Eagles’ dominant rushing attack is too much for the visiting ‘Boys, and they spilt the season series. Record: 11-6.
The Dallas Cowboys have a favorable schedule the rest of the way. The Arizona Cardinals are the only contender left on their schedule, with the Eagles likely being the only other true challenge left. More than likely, Dallas finishes the season with a final record of 11-6.
Philadelphia Eagles’ Remaining Schedule
If our predictions are correct, and the Cowboys finish at 11-6, the Philadelphia Eagles will need to win out to finish the season to even match their division rival’s record. Is there any chance that this happens? Let’s have a look:
Week 13: At New York Giants. Most likely result: Eagles win. The Giants are unable to bounce back after parting ways with Jason Garrett. The Eagles get back to .500. Record: 6-6.
Week 14: At New York Jets. Most likely result: Eagles win. The New York Jets are terrible. This should be an easy one for the Birds. Winning record, here we come! Record: 7-6.
Week 15: Home against Washington Football Team. Most likely result: Eagles win. The Eagles keep their streak alive when Riverboat Ron comes to town. Record: 8-6.
Week 16: Home against New York Giants. Most likely result: Eagles win. Cowboys fans are getting nervous as the Eagles winning streak continues! Record: 9-6.
Week 17: At Washington Football Team. Most likely result: Washington wins. The Washington Football Team pulls off the win at home, splitting the season series with Philly. Washington effectively ends the division race, bailing out the Cowboys. Record: 9-7.
Week 18: Home against Dallas Cowboys. Most likely result: Philadelphia wins. With the division already won, the Cowboys phone it in. Philly falls a game short in the division. Record: 10-7.
The Eagles finish what had been expected to be a brutal rebuilding year at a respectable 10-7. Unfortunately, it is not quite enough to catch Dallas in the division. However, the Eagles return to the playoffs after a brief hiatus by taking the top wild card spot in the NFC.
No. The Eagles will probably not win the division. The Eagles would have to win out the rest of the way to surpass a Cowboys’ team that goes .500 for the rest of their own season. Philly, while playing outstanding football right now, is not good enough to go 6-0 the rest of the way. Conversely, Dallas is too talented a squad not to win the majority of their remaining matchups against generally subpar opponents.
That said, if the Eagles finish with a winning record and sneak into the playoffs with a wild card seed, it should be seen as a massive step forward for this franchise. From the uncertainty and chaos of the 2020 season to the tear down of this past offseason, the Eagles have already found their franchise quarterback, a talented young coach, and a method to play winning football.
Don’t let a second-place finish in the NFC East disappoint you, Eagles nation. This will have been a hugely important year. It is a strong first step towards returning to contention.
More to come from Philly.