What felt unimaginable a month ago could very well play out during the final stretch of the NFL season.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a real chance to make the postseason this year. Sitting at 5-6, with the easiest strength of schedule over their final six games, snagging one of the final wildcard spots in the top heavy NFC is a very realistic possibility.
But taking the division? A division that seemed to be locked up by the Cowboys at the mid-point of the season — even now, it feels like a bit of a stretch. But it’s certainly not impossible.
Dallas has lost three out of their last four games, while the Eagles have won three out of their last four games. Heading into their Thanksgiving contest against Las Vegas, Dallas had a 77% chance at winning the NFC East, according to FiveThirtyEight. After the overtime loss, Dallas’ chances fell to 65%, while the Eagles chances shot up from 12% to 18%. If Philly wins on Sunday against New York, their chances at winning the division will increase to 28% and the Cowboys will drop to 57%.
For the Eagles to even have a chance at stealing the NFC East from Dallas, they’ll more than likely need to run the table. It’s been well documented that Philadelphia has the easiest remaining strength of schedule, with their remaining opponents combining for a 0.377 winning percentage.
But, five of their final six games will be against divisional opponents. New York and Washington twice, with Dallas looming in the final week of the season.
Dallas’ remaining schedule is a bit tougher. They’ll face four divisional opponents over the final six weeks. The two games outside of the division will be against a reeling Saints team next week and the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Arizona Cardinals, in Week 17.
If Dallas drops two games and the Eagles run the table, both teams will be 10-6 heading into the final week of the season.
Of course, Dallas has been dealing with a handful of key injuries on the offensive side of the ball, so it’s easy to point out why they’re struggling. But defensively, they’ve tapered off significantly. Over the past four weeks, Dallas has allowed an average of 375 yards per game, 22 points per game, and 140.5 rushing yards per game.
Take out their lone win during that stretch — a 43-3 drumming of the Atlanta Falcons — and all those averages increase significantly. In those three losses, Dallas has allowed an average of 428.7 yards, 28.4 points, and 153 rushing yards per game.
In short, their defense has reverted back to being a liability. Sure, they cause turnovers, but their top turnover creator, Trevon Diggs, has posted an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 50.4 in 2021, 109th out of 118 qualifying corners. Micah Parsons has still been a force for them, but he can’t mask all the underlying problems with Dallas’ defense.
As any NFL fanatic knows, it’s not about how you begin a season, it’s about how you finish it. The Eagles and Cowboys are heading in opposite directions right now. Philly is peaking at the right time, and if Dallas continues to drop games, the NFC East title could very well be decided when both teams meet in Week 18.