The Philadelphia Eagles got themselves to 7-5 over the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 1. The Eagles dominated the Cardinals for 30+ minutes, got mistake free football from Nick Foles again, and managed to overcome another shaky fourth quarter. Yet for all Philadelphia did, it would still miss the playoffs if the season ended today.
The Eagles already knew they wouldn't take the NFC East lead, after the Dallas Cowboys rallied over the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving. While Philadelphia tied Dallas again, it is still in second thanks to that haunting Cowboys win at Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 20. As long as the Cowboys and Eagles are tied, Philadelphia will be behind the eight ball -- at least until their season finale rematch on Dec. 29.
If the Eagles didn't win the NFC East, it was presumed that they'd have no chance for a wild card. However, the wild card picture is starting to open up as a possibility. Thanks to beating the Cardinals, the Eagles hold a tiebreaker of their own over 7-5 Arizona, and now lead the 6-6 Chicago Bears and 5-6-1 Green Bay Packers too.
However, if the season ended today, the Eagles would be on the outside of the wild card too. Unfortunately, the 9-3 Carolina Panthers are technically the No. 5 seed, while the 8-4 San Francisco 49ers now have sole possession of the No. 6 seed, thanks to Philadelphia beating Arizona.
With the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks having a stranglehold on the NFC West, the 49ers are likely staying in the wild card picture. Meanwhile, the loser of the NFC South race between the Panthers and New Orleans Saints will probably get the No. 5 seed. Therefore, the best hope for the Eagles to squeeze in is for the 49ers -- the defending NFC champions -- to fall apart.
If that doesn't happen, it will be NFC East or bust for Philadelphia after all. But with the Cowboys at 4-0 in the division and the Eagles at 3-2, all Dallas has to do is beat the 3-9 Washington Redskins on Dec. 22 to win the divisional record tiebreaker.
If that happens, the Eagles would be out of the race if they were one game behind the Cowboys before their Week 17 showdown. As such, Philadelphia may need perfection to stay in the division and wild card races for the foreseeable future.