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Here's how the Eagles can take the NFC (L)East title with 7 wins

Martin Frank
Delaware News Journal

It took a last-second field goal by the Dallas Cowboys to beat the New York Giants and thus knock the Eagles out of first place with their underwhelming 1-3-1 record.

Still, the Eagles are just one-half game behind Dallas (2-3) with 11 games left. The Cowboys, meanwhile, just lost star quarterback Dak Prescott for the season after he had ankle surgery.

Washington not only benched quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but moved him down to third string. The Giants are 0-5 and without star running back Saquon Barkley, who tore his ACL last month.

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So what would it take for the Eagles to win the NFC East, easily the worst division in the NFL?

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson (22) tackles Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Travis Fulgham (13) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Could they finish 6-9-1 and win it? Probably not, based on the Cowboys' remaining schedule.

A record of 7-8-1 should get it done. But that would take some work for the Eagles, considering their brutal remaining schedule. 

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Still, the Eagles at least have a chance. They might already be buried by now if they were in any other division. When asked about that, Eagles coach Doug Pederson responded: "I’m going to pull out my inner Bill Belichick and say I’m focused on Baltimore (the Eagles' next opponent)."

There have only been two teams to win their division with losing records over a full 16-game schedule – the Carolina Panthers at 7-8-1 in 2014 and the Seattle Seahawks at 7-9 in 2010.

Here's a team-by-team look at the NFC East to show how the Eagles can win the division, with the current record listed:

1. Eagles, 1-3-1, 2nd place

To get to 7-8-1, the Eagles would have to go 6-5. But that is much tougher than it looks based on the Eagles' non-division slate.

The Eagles would have to go 4-1 in their five remaining division games – winning both games against the Giants, a split with Dallas, and winning the one remaining game against Washington in the season finale on Jan. 3.

That, believe it or not, is the easy part, even though the Eagles would have to only go 2-4 against the non-division opponents.

Those opponents, however, have a combined record of 23-6 after the New Orleans Saints' win Monday night. The Eagles begin that with the Baltimore Ravens (4-1) on Sunday.

The worst of those six teams are the Saints and the Arizona Cardinals, both 3-2. The other games are at Cleveland (4-1) on Nov. 22, home for Seattle (5-0) on Nov. 30, and at Green Bay (4-0) on Dec. 6.

Good luck.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is carted off the field after suffering a severe right leg injury during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. Dallas won 37-34. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

2. Cowboys, 2-3, 1st place

Don't expect the Cowboys to go in the tank without Prescott. 

They still have a top running back in Ezekiel Elliott, and three top receivers in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb.

Plus, quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown for more than 31,000 yards in his 10-season career.

The Cowboys would have to go 6-5 in order to finish 8-8 and win the division. They, too, have five division games remaining, with two against Washington, two against the Eagles and one against the Giants. 

If the Cowboys go 3-2 in those five games, they would have to go 3-3 against their remaining non-division opponents. The Cowboys have the most favorable of non-divisional games remaining, as the combined record is 15-13-1.

The easiest games are against the Vikings (1-4) and the Bengals (1-3-1). If the Cowboys win those two, then they would need only one more against Arizona (3-2), Pittsburgh (4-0), Baltimore (4-1) and the 49ers (2-3) to get to 8 wins.

The Cowboys should be able to get to 7 wins easily enough, even without Prescott. If they get to 8, they'll win the division.

Washington Football Team quarterback Kyle Allen (8) gets taken down by Los Angeles Rams and former University of Delaware linebacker Troy Reeder (51) during an NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, October 11, 2020 in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Daniel Kucin Jr.)

3. Washington, 1-4, 3rd place

Washington would have to go 7-4 to get to 8-8. 

That's hard to picture considering that Washington has been outscored by 53 points this season, the worst point differential in the NFC – and that's even after beating the Eagles by 10 points.

For now, Kyle Allen, if he's healthy, is the quarterback with Alex Smith as the backup. It seems like Washington has already decided Haskins isn't the team's QB of the future.

So if Washington is going to get into the sweepstakes for either Clemson's Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State's Justin Fields, it needs to lose, not win.

A 3-2 record among Washington's remaining NFC East games can be achieved by winning two against the Giants, splitting with Dallas and losing to the Eagles.

That would leave Washington needing to go 4-2 among its non-division foes. Combined, those teams are 16-11-1.

Three of the six – Detroit (1-3), Cincinnati (1-3-1) and the 49ers (2-3) – are under .500. But the Steelers and Seahawks are unbeaten, and Carolina is 3-2. 

Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) fumbles the ball as he's sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) in the first half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

4. N.Y. Giants, 0-5, 4th place

Does anyone see 8-3 coming from the Giants, even after coming close to knocking off the Cowboys on Sunday?

The Giants' remaining schedule isn't doing them any favors, either. Let's say they somehow go 4-1 among their NFC East games, which would include winning two against either Washington or the Eagles and splitting with the other, then beating Dallas in the season finale at home.

Even with that, the Giants would still have to go 4-2 against their non-division opponents, and those six teams have a combined record of 20-9-1. That includes games against Seattle (5-0), Cleveland (4-1) and Baltimore (4-1).

Maybe next year.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.