The Philadelphia Eagles could have everything to play for on Dec. 22. Since the Eagles had their game with the Chicago Bears flexed to primetime, they will know the full stakes of the contest by kickoff. In truth, Philadelphia will know what it is playing for by 4 p.m. est, once the Dallas Cowboys either get by the Washington Redskins or get pushed to the brink of elimination.
After the Cowboys' come from ahead loss to Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers at home on Dec. 15, with a chance to take full control of the NFC East, beating the 3-11 Redskins on the road is less certain. On paper, it should be easy for Dallas to beat the other most dysfunctional team in football -- especially since a win would let the Cowboys be able to clinch the NFC East over the Eagles on Dec. 29.
If Dallas prevails, a Philadelphia loss to Chicago won't mean anything. Both teams would be tied at 8-7 going into their championship game -- and even if the Eagles won and got to 9-6, the Cowboys would win the tiebreaker if they beat them and got to 9-7.
On the other hand, if the Cowboys drop to 7-8 in Washington, the 8-6 Eagles can win the NFC East before even going to Dallas. Of course, the Bears may need to win to wrap up the NFC North as well. If Chicago beats Philadelphia even with everything on the line, the 8-7 Eagles would still need to beat the 7-8 Cowboys to wrap up the division.
There is still a chance that an 8-8 Cowboys team would prevail in the NFC East, in spite of all their collapses. Given the state of the East, it might be the most fitting way to decide a champion. However, if the Eagles cough up the title by losing their last three games -- after a five-game winning streak, at that -- it would be a far greater choke job than any the Cowboys have pulled off lately.
If the Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers win before kickoff in Philadelphia, the Eagles-Bears game will turn into a preseason contest, with both clubs unable to win or lose their divisions until next week -- against the Cowboys and Packers, no less. But if Washington pulls off an upset, tonight will mean everything for the home team.