Eagles

NFL playoff picture: Cowboys' win over Saints threw a buzzsaw into Eagles' postseason hopes

NFL playoff picture: Cowboys' win over Saints threw a buzzsaw into Eagles' postseason hopes

We had all concocted this plan about how the Eagles were going to win on Monday night and create a three-way tie atop the NFC East and then the Cowboys went ahead and ruined it. 

Last night, the Cowboys shocked everyone and beat the Saints 13-10 at AT&T Stadium and are now firmly in the driver’s seat of the NFC East. It was a game we all penciled in as a loss for the Cowboys and now that it’s a win, it changes things. 

According to the statistics website FiveThirtyEight, the Cowboys’ chances to win the NFC East went from 54 percent before the win to 70 percent after. The Eagles’ chances to win the division yesterday were 21 percent, down to 15 percent today. 

Here’s an updated look at the NFC East standings: 

Cowboys: 7-5
Redskins: 6-5
Eagles: 5-6
Giants: 3-8 

The good news for the Eagles is that a lot of their fate still rests in their hands with the next two games. If they beat Washington, they would be 6-6 and if they beat the Cowboys next week, both teams would be 7-6. Obviously, winning those two games, especially in Dallas after the Saints couldn’t even win there, won’t be easy. But it’s there for the taking. 

For the sake of assuming the Eagles still have a chance in this thing, we’ll go forward with the idea that they win the next two games. That means they are tied with the Cowboys at a 7-6 record going into Week 15. And things get incredibly hard from there. 

Here are the Cowboys’ three final games: 

at Indianapolis (6-5)   
vs. Tampa Bay (4-7)
at New York Giants (3-8) 

And the Eagles’ final three games: 

at L.A. Rams (10-1)    
vs. Houston (8-3)
at Washington (6-5) 

It seems pretty clear that the Cowboys have an easier remaining schedule. Their opponent win percentage is 39.3 percent, compared to the Eagles’ opponent win percentage of 72.7 percent. Yikes. 

It seems really possible that even if the Cowboys were to lose to the Eagles at home next weekend, they could still win out, giving them a 10-6 record that would be really hard for the Eagles to reach. They would need to win out and they haven’t won back-to-back games all year. 

Obviously, that Eagles-Cowboys game will be huge. If the Eagles beat Washington on Monday and then beat the Cowboys next weekend, they would give Dallas two losses in the division. After head-to-head record, the next tiebreaker to settle a division winner is division record. The Eagles still have a chance to have just one division loss, but the chances obviously aren’t good. 

The Eagles still have some hope of making it to the playoffs, but the Cowboys’ win over the Saints really threw a buzzsaw into this whole plan. It’s one heck of an uphill battle now. 

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What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

Remember how overmatched Miles Sanders looked after gaining just 25 yards on 11 carries in the opener against the Redskins? Remember how lost he looked a week later when he was just 10-for-28 in Atlanta?

Three weeks into his rookie season, Sanders was averaging 3.1 yards per carry and ranked 28th out of 33 qualifying running backs.

Six from the bottom.

Since then?

Sanders has blossomed.

In the Eagles’ last nine games, Sanders is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, 7th-best in the league of 53 backs during that span.

Six from the top.

In a season with very few positives, Sanders’ development has been fun to watch.

What’s been the difference?

Sanders is just seeing things better, he’s running more decisively and he's moving the chains forward.

Nothing demonstrates that better than his percentage of carries that have gone for one or fewer yards.

In his first game, more than half his carries went for one or fewer yards (6 of 10). Through five games he was still at 35 percent, with 19 of 53 runs that went less than two yards.

In the last seven games, that number has dropped precipitously. Of his 62 carries since the Vikings game, only nine — nine of 62 — have been one or fewer yards. 

“I feel like I’ve been getting better and better each week,” the second-round pick from Penn State said. “Everybody’s been telling me that, but most importantly, I’ve been noticing it myself, just trying to get better and do it each week. I feel more confident just as far as reading where I’m supposed to be, getting my eyes in the right place and just playing ball out there.”

Sanders has 520 rushing yards and needs 118 to break LeSean McCoy’s franchise rookie rushing record of 637, set in 2009.

He has 879 scrimmage yards and needs 130 to break DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie scrimmage yards record of 1,008, set in 2008.

Going into this weekend, he was second to Raiders 1st-round pick Josh Jacobs among rookies with 879 scrimmage yards and fourth in rushing (behind Jacobs, David Montgomery and Devin Singletary).

Is Doug Pederson using Sanders enough?

That’s a different question. 

Sanders is averaging 4.5 yards per carry overall but still has only the 30th-most carries in the league and the 25th-most touches among running backs. 

“I think you're seeing the patience in the running game,” Doug Pederson said. “His vision is better, it's improved from Week 1 to Week 13. The more he gets time, the more he gets snaps, the better he'll get.”

Sanders has taken care of the production. Now it’s up to Pederson to take care of getting him more snaps.

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Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

9:57 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! 

We have waited a long time for tonight, but the Eagles will host Eli Manning and the Giants tonight at the Linc. Here are five matchups to watch.

If you’re heading to the game, bring your rain gear. 

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