Philadelphia Eagles playoff picture: What would an unlikely path back to the Super Bowl look like?

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Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith celebrates after scoring with quarterback Jalen Hurts during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Philadelphia Eagles ended 2023 with a shocking defeat against the lowly Arizona Cardinals. Compounding the disappointment is the fact that the Dallas Cowboys controversially beat the Detroit Lions less than 24 hours before. What has this done to the NFL playoff picture and Philadelphia’s Super Bowl chances?

Can the Eagles still win the NFC East?

The short answer is ‘yes’, but the long answer is, unfortunately, more complicated. The Eagles and Cowboys both sit at 11-5. Philadelphia faces the Giants next weekend, while the Cowboys are 13-point favorites over the Commanders.

The Eagles have to beat the Giants if they are to win the NFC East, and they’ll also need the Commanders to somehow upset the Cowboys. It’s not impossible, and there is a chance that Dallas rests its starters. However, even that is unlikely due to the scheduling.

Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts runs with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

The four NFC East outfits will lock horns at 4:25PM on CBS. This means that Dallas will have no idea what the Eagles score is, and vice-versa, at kickoff. The difference between a divisional crown and a loss is monumental (as I’ll explain shortly), so the chance of either team resting starters is minimal, with the stakes being extremely high.

What happens if the Cowboys win the division?

The most likely scenario this weekend is that the Cowboys win the NFC East. This would mean that the Philadelphia Eagles would face the NFC South winners (Tampa Bay Buccaneers New Orleans Saints, or potentially Atlanta Falcons) as the #5 seed.

Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell runs past New York Giants linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) and linebacker Micah McFadden during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Eagles’ road to the Super Bowl

Tampa Bay faces Carolina, while the Saints and Falcons will lock horns. If Tampa Bay wins, they’re divisional champs. If they lose, then whoever wins out of New Orleans and Atlanta will flame the NFC South and face Philadelphia in the playoffs.

If the Eagles beat the NFC South champions, they’ll then move on to face the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round. The Niners slapped the Eagles 42-19 just a few short weeks ago and it’s not like the Birds have shown much hope of becoming a team who can change that outcome.

If they somehow beat the Niners, a clash against Dallas, Green Bay, Detroit, or Los Angeles awaits. If we’re being honest, it’s likely going to be the Cowboys, which would again be a game against a team who have recently humbled the Birds.

The path to a Super Bowl berth is a bumpy one, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl chances

Once joint-favorites to win the Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Eagles are now +1100 to win the Lombardi Trophy. The San Francisco 49ers are favorites at +250, and the Cowboys are +850. So even if the Eagles did win the NFC East, it’s not like Vegas would grade their chances overwhelmingly better.

The full odds can be seen here:

San Francisco 49ers+220
Baltimore Ravens+300
Buffalo Bills+800
Dallas Cowboys+850
Kansas City Chiefs+950
Dallas Cowboys+1100

AP Photo/Chris Szagola