The Inquirer is calling Sunday's game against the Giants a "must-win
." I guess you can't disagree with that characterization, but I'm not sure why exactly the Eagles must win it. The playoffs are a pipe dream at this point (more on this at the end of the post). The bright shining light for the Birds is the anticipated return of fallen hero Donovan McNabb. A.J. Feeley's chariot turned into a pumpkin in dramatic fashion last week, not six days after I said he needed to start for the Eagles to have a shot at making the aforementioned playoffs. I was wrong, I suppose. Although I still think A.J.'s strong points (getting rid of the ball quickly and accurately) are exactly what's needed in this offense, with this personnel, his weak points are well, killers.
McNabb will be under center Sunday, and barring another injury, he'll probably remain there for the rest of the season. What does this mean? It depends on who you ask. Some people think his piss-poor performance this year was largely due to his knee injury and to be more accurate, the long recovery period. Perhaps his mobility will return, he'll be able to extend plays with his legs, make something out of nothing, and make up for his accuracy woes and slow decision-making. It's possible. On the other hand, we could see more of the same from him. We could see a QB who just is not suited for this offense. We could see a shell of the former McNabb.
If the latter is the case, it would behoove all Eagle fans to catch the final four games of this 2007 season, because they will probably be the last time we'll see Donovan in an Eagles' uniform. It will be the end of a great era for this franchise. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a McNabb "hater." I like the guy. I've loved having him as our QB for the past 9 seasons, hell, I even named one of my dogs after him. I hope he catches on somewhere else, plays well, and never comes back to haunt the Eagles. More than that, I hope he finds whatever the myriad injuries have robbed him of and he returns to form here, for the Eagles. I just don't see that happening. This lost season just won't be redeemed.
Speaking of lost causes, let's take a look at the playoff picture. Yes, it's possible the Eagles could sneak in, but the odds are long. Here's a breakdown:
- Giants (8-4, hold the #1 WC spot) - Lost another RB last week, but it would take a monumental collapse for them to miss the playoffs. One more win probably locks a spot down for them. The Eagles can pass them, and claim the tiebreaker.
- Remaining Games: @Philly, vs. Wash, @ Buff., @ N.E.
- Predicted Final Record: 9-7
- Lions (6-6, tied for #2 WC spot) - Losers of 4 straight games, and sinking like a rock. Eagles hold tiebreaker over Lions, head-to-head record.
- Remaining Games: vs. Dallas, @ San Diego, vs. K.C., @ Green Bay
- Predicted Final Record: 7-9
- Vikings (6-6, tied for #2 WC spot) - Winners of three straight, and got a huge shot in the arm when Adrian Peterson returned from knee surgery last week. Eagles hold tiebreaker over Vikings, head-to-head record.
- Remaining Games: @ San. Fran., vs. Chicago, vs. Wash., @ Denver
- Predicted Final Record: 9-7 (loss @ Denver to end the season)
- Cardinals (6-6, tied for #2 WC spot) - How they're 6-6 is beyond me. They hold tiebreaker over Eagles, conference record.
- Remaining Games: @ Sea., @ New Orleans, vs. Atlanta, vs. St. Lou
- Predicted Record: 8-8
- Bears (5-7) - Heart-breaking loss last week against the Giants. Honestly, if you don't kick the ball to Hester, I don't see how they can beat you. Grossman at QB, no running game. Hold tiebreaker over the Eagles, head-to-head record.
- Remaining Games: @ Wash., @ Minn., Green Bay, New Orleans
- Predicted Record: 6-10
- Eagles (5-7) - Who knows.
- Remaining Games: vs. Giants, @ Dallas, @ New Orleans, vs. Bills
- Predicted Record: 7-9
- Redskins (5-7) - Tragic season. Hold tiebreaker over Eagles, conference record.
- Remaining Games: vs. Chicago, @ Giants., @ Minn., vs. Dallas
- Predicted Record: 5-11
- Panthers (5-7) - Vinny Testaverde is their starting QB. Vinny F&cking Testaverde! Hold tiebreaker over the Eagles, conference record.
- Remaining Games: @ Jax., vs. Sea., vs. Dallas, @ Tampa Bay
- Predicted Record: 6-10
That sums it up. Effectively, the Eagles need to tie the Vikings and Lions, pass the Cardinals and out-pace the Bears, Skins and Panthers. If they finish with a good enough record to be in the discussion for the playoffs, they will have taken a couple of the conference record tiebreakers, so it gets a tad complicated, but anything less than a 3-1 finish isn't going to get the job done, and even that probably won't be enough.