The Philadelphia Eagles are on the verge of winning an unlikely division title. After the Eagles blew out the Chicago Bears by 54-11 on Dec. 22, their chances for finishing off the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 29 looked better. Yet the fact is that if Philadelphia loses in Dallas, it will miss the postseason altogether -- when it should have already been in the playoffs by now.
It is inexplicable that the Eagles could do what they did against the Bears, yet still be in danger of missing the playoffs. But because of a series of freak outcomes and collapses -- both on the Eagles' and Cowboys' ends -- Philadelphia could still pay dearly for not winning the NFC East earlier.
If the Eagles had handled the Minnesota Vikings like they were supposed to on Dec. 15, the race would be over already. If the Washington Redskins had made one more stop against the Cowboys on Dec. 22, the Eagles would have been able to clinch hours later. What's more, if the Eagles hadn't utterly tanked against the Cowboys themselves on Oct. 20, there'd be nothing at stake for Dallas in the rematch.
The Eagles have put themselves in this position with a 6-1 hot streak. Yet they are also in the position of being on the brink of elimination, due to their puzzling collapses against the Cowboys, Vikings, New York Giants and San Diego Chargers earlier this season. If they lose to the Cowboys next week and get knocked out, it won't just be because of that one loss -- it'll be because of all the others that made less sense.
Of course, if the Cowboys hadn't rallied in various games, they wouldn't have gotten this far either. Despite their various collapses against the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos, rallies over the Vikings, Redskins and Oakland Raiders have balanced it out.
Considering how overwhelming the Eagles have often been, and how overwhelmed the Cowboys have been as well, there's no reason Philadelphia shouldn't have won the NFC East by now. But thanks to various outcomes that look more inexplicable by the day, the Cowboys are still in place to steal the East away anyway.
In fact, if the Eagles go from scoring 54 points to being shut down when it really matters, it might be a bizarre but fitting way to end this race.