One thing you can always count on with the Eagles; they are always interesting. There is always something happening with this team that no one sees coming.
After the Eagles lost to the Cowboys in overtime on Dec. 9, it was pretty much a given they would head out to the West Coast and get finished off by the 11-2 Los Angeles Rams.
Then word started to come out through the NFL Network and ESPN that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had a back injury that may sideline him for the Rams game and possibly the season.
The reports were true. Coach Doug Pederson announced that Nick Foles would start against the Rams at the LA Memorial Coliseum on Sunday Night Football, the same team and stadium where he started his now legendary run to a Super Bowl title.
Just like he did last year, Foles led his team to an improbable 30-23 win against the Rams and breathed life into a season that even the most loyal Eagles fans believed was almost certainly lost.
Foles was 24-of-31 for 270 yards and one interception. Although he was hit numerous times, Foles was not sacked.
Wendell Smallwood rushed for two touchdowns, and rookie Josh Adams ran for another score as the Eagles (7-7) kept their playoff hopes alive.
The Eagles as a team rushed for 111 yards on 30 carries. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had a big day with eight catches for 160 yards.
As usual, Foles deflected praise and talked about how he and his friend Wentz were dealing with the same situation as last year.
“It’s been really emotional,” Foles said at his postgame news conference. “You hate for your teammate to get hurt. I feel really bad for Carson. … What you’ve done in the past, what I’ve done in the past, it doesn’t matter when you step on that field. It’s a new day. So I was dealing with the emotions, but prepping as hard as I could, and then realizing I’m not alone. I have great teammates out there. All I have to do is spread the ball around, lean on them, stay in the moment, and we were able to do that tonight. Today was a huge win for us.”
The Eagles have no tiebreakers if they end up with the same record as the Carolina Panthers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Seattle Seahawks or Minnesota Vikings. The only way into the playoffs is to have a better record that the other teams. Here are the unofficial scenarios where the Birds can grab one of the three remaining spots in the NFC playoffs.
Virtually every scenario requires the Eagles to win out and end up with a 9-7 record.
NFC EAST: It’s simple, the Eagles must win both of their remaining games and the Cowboys must lose both games for the Eagles to take the NFC East.
Dallas (8-6) will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-9) this week them travel to East Rutherford, New Jersey to play the New York Giants (5-9).
NFC WILD CARD: The Birds must defeat the Houston Texans (10-4) this Sunday at the Linc (1 p.m., CBS) then the Washington Redskins on the road at FedEx Field Dec. 30 (1 p.m., Fox). For the sake of this article, let’s say the Eagles do that.
They could get in if Seattle (8-6) loses both of its remaining games, both at home, against the Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) then the last-place Arizona Cardinals (3-11).
The Birds could get in if the Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) lose either at the Detroit Lions (5-9) this Sunday or home against the Chicago Bears (10-4) in the season finale.
The Bears game could be tricky because Chicago may not have anything to play for. Eagles fans can only hope a first-round bye is still up for grabs.
Best bet? The Eagles sweep their last two games, and the Vikings go 1-1. If that happens, the Eagles are in the playoffs with a chance to defend their Super Bowl.
Want more hope? Let’s remember 2008, when the Eagles went into the final weekend of the regular season with a record of 8-6-1. They were facing the Cowboys and Tony Romo at the Linc.
The Eagles needed losses by the Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to occur if the Birds’ game against the Cowboys was to mean anything. The Bears and Bucs were favored in their respective games that day, but both still lost. The Eagles crushed the Cowboys 44-6.
The Eagles came in as the No. 6 seed, then won road playoff games against the Vikings and Giants. The Eagles lost to the Cardinals in the NFC title game but when you look back, it was a great run after entering the last game of the season on the outside looking in.
The message? Anything can happen over the next two weeks. Pederson talked about how his team was up against it that weekend and once again came through.
“Our backs are against the wall, too, as a football team,” Pederson said at his Monday press gathering at NovaCare. “We know the nature of where we are, what needs to be done, and I think you saw a little bit of that last night. Just how well this team kind of came together in all three phases to get this win against a great football team and a good football team. Every win is cherished and appreciative and hard fought, and we just try to get the next one.” ••