Eagles Eye Bye in the First Round

The Eagles can still finish as the first, second or third seed in the NFC.  Currently slotted in third, the Eagles need to win out against Minnesota and Dallas in order to have a chance to move up.  To grab the two-seed, they also need a Bears loss to the Packers next week at Lambeau Field.

The scenarios that give the Birds the top spot in the NFC are a bit more complicated.  The simplest has the Eagles winning out, the Bears losing to the Packers, the Falcons losing to the Panthers and the Saints losing to the Buccaneers.  That would leave the Eagles and Falcons tied at 12-4, with Philadelphia holding the tiebreaker.

The more convoluted scenario is the same, with a Bears win instead of a loss.  That leaves the Eagles, Falcons and Bears tied at 12-4.  The tiebreaker goes down to strength of victory, which the Falcons currently lead at .4659 (89-102) to .4598 (86-101) over the Eagles, with the Bears too far behind to catch up.  Those calculations include automatic games next week that add a win and a loss to the totals, such as the Lions-Jaguars game (the Eagles beat both, thus it will even out in the strength of victory). They also include the projected outcomes that set up that tiebreak scenario, such as a Saints loss and a Bears win.

The Eagles can improve to 90-102 with wins by the Giants, Colts and 49ers, while the Falcons can improve to 90-102 or drop to 89-103 depending on the outcome of the Browns game against the Steelers.  Should they be tied in strength of victory, the Bears would be eliminated and the tiebreaker would revert back to the first step of a two-team tiebreaker, giving the Eagles the one-seed.

The bye is what is most critical, given that teams with a bye have made it to the Super Bowl 19.4 percent of the time since the current playoff format was adopted in 1990.  Teams without a bye have made it just 2.8 percent of the time.

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