Eagles Playoff Picture Grows Darker
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - An already difficult path became even trickier on Thursday night when the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys shut down the powerful New Orleans Saints en route to a 13-10 victory in North Texas.
The Cowboys' impressive front harrassed MVP candidate Drew Brees on a consistent basis and New Orlean's undrafted receivers finally looked like undrafted players, struggling to generate any separation from Dallas' athletic back seven, spearheaded by linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, as well as cornerback Byron Jones.
If you live your life based on probabilities, the likelihood of the 5-6 Eagles running down now 7-5 Dallas and 6-5 Washington fell from 21 percent to 15 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. If the Saints won as expected on Thursday that number would have hit 26 percent and grew even further from there if the Eagles take care of business against the Redskins on Monday night.
The good news is Philadelphia is still in good shape to be in the driver's seat of the division if its able to beat Washington and then win at Dallas. At that point, the NFC East would be the Eagles' division to lose based on a superior division record.
The bad news is then the Eagles would have to hold up down the stretch -- at the LA Rams, home against a very good Houston team and at Washington in Week 17, a much more difficult road that the Cowboys have (at Indy, home against Tampa Bay and at the moribund New York Giants to close things out).
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen