Miles Sanders is right to talk playoffs for the Eagles, and here are the scenarios
At this point, it's not a question of whether the Eagles will make the playoffs as much as how they'll make it.
Running back Miles Sanders acknowledged this after the Eagles beat the Saints 40-29 on Sunday, improving to 5-6 on the season.
First, Sanders said, when answering a question about how well the Eagles are playing: "The playoffs are coming up."
When asked a follow-up question about his comment a few minutes later, Sanders sort of backtracked, saying: "I’m mad I kind of said that. We’re not really thinking about that. It’s just the fact that these last games (other than the Jets) are all division. And if we win them all, we’re going to be in the playoffs."
Sanders is right about that.
The Eagles are currently one-half game out of the last two wildcard spots with six games remaining. Five of those games are against the Giants (twice), Washington (twice) and the Jets, who are a combined 9-21.
The regular-season finale is on Jan. 9 against the Cowboys, who could be resting many of their starters with a stranglehold on the NFC East. Dallas leads the second-place Eagles by 2 1/2 games.
Here, then, are the Eagles' playoff scenarios depending on how many of their remaining games they win.
Note: If they finish 6-0, they're in and most likely winning the NFC East. If they finish 1-5 or worse, they're out, as well they should be.
1. Eagles go 5-1, finish 10-7
The Eagles would have an outside chance at the division title, as long as the one loss isn't to the Cowboys. For this scenario to happen, Dallas would have to finish no better than 3-4.
It's a longshot. The best team remaining on the Cowboys' schedule is Arizona (9-2) on Jan. 2. The only other teams as high as .500 are the Raiders (5-5) and the Saints (5-5), the Cowboys' next two opponents.
Both of those teams are in the midst of three-game losing streaks.
So the Eagles will need either the Giants and/or Washington to beat the Cowboys to have a chance at the division title. Dallas currently has a better division record than the Eagles (2-0 compared to 0-1). That would be the first tiebreaker should the Eagles and Cowboys split their season series.
The Cowboys won the first game, 41-21 on Sept. 27. So an Eagles win in the finale would be essential.
2. Eagles go 4-2, finish 9-8
At this point, the NFC East is pretty much out of the question. But the second or third wildcard spot is definitely in play.
Let's start with the fact that the Rams (7-3) have the inside track to the first wildcard. After them, there are five teams with either a 5-5 or 5-6 record, including the Eagles.
Two of those five would get the last two playoff spots. Of those teams, the Eagles have the tiebreaker edge over Carolina (5-6) and the Saints, but not the 49ers (5-5).
There are two other teams with 4-6 records in Atlanta and Washington. The Eagles have the tiebreaker edge over the Falcons, and they have two games coming against WFT.
The 49ers, then, could be the Eagles' biggest threat. San Francisco can't finish better than 3-4 in this scenario. The 49ers do play in the NFC West, still one of the toughest divisions.
But they have already played the Cardinals twice and the Rams once, and that remaining game against the Rams is the season finale, which could be meaningless for the Rams.
They do have tough games left against the Vikings, Bengals and Titans. But they also have the reeling Seahawks and Texans.
Then again, the Vikings just beat the Packers, although they still have to play the Packers again, this time in Green Bay. They also have the Rams and the 49ers remaining.
As of now, Minnesota has a better conference record than the Eagles (4-2 compared to 4-3), so any Vikings loss to an NFC team helps the Eagles.
3. Eagles go 3-3, finish 8-9
That is still possible, but not ideal.
For the Eagles that means they would lose at least two games among the five against the Giants, WFT and Jets. That, of course, would be disappointing considering how well the Eagles have played over the last four games.
If that were to happen, Carolina and New Orleans can't go better than 3-4 the rest of the way, and the 49ers have to go 2-5. If that happens, the Vikings would have the inside track to the second wildcard, and the Eagles could get the third.
If the Eagles finish with the No. 7 seed, that would mean a first-round playoff game at the No. 2 seed. As of now, that's either at Green Bay, Dallas or Tampa Bay.
If it's Dallas, that would be back-to-back games against the Cowboys. If it's the Packers, that's a road game in Green Bay in the middle of January. And if it's Tampa, that would be against Tom Brady going for his eighth Super Bowl win.
If the Eagles are going to make a cameo playoff appearance, it might as well be someplace warm.
4. Eagles go 2-4, finish 7-10
Really, if it comes down to this, the Eagles don't deserve to be in the playoffs. And it would take a minor miracle anyway.
For the Eagles, that would likely mean losing at least three out of four games with the Giants and Washington. That means at least two losses to one of those teams, thus taking away any kind of tiebreaker with that team.
If we're counting the Rams as one wildcard, and either Washington or the Giants as finishing ahead of the Eagles for another wildcard spot, then Carolina and New Orleans would have to finish 2-4 and 2-5, respectively, for the Eagles to even have a chance.
But there's more.
The Vikings would have to finish 2-5, but 1-5 in games against NFC opponents, with their other win coming against the Steelers in the AFC. That's unlikely considering the Vikings still face the Bears twice and Lions once.
The 49ers, meanwhile, would have to go 1-6 the rest of the way, while the Falcons can't finish better than 3-4.
If the Eagles make it by this scenario, they might as well forfeit their first-round game.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.