Take this mental quiz.
Which of the following does not fit?
2012 Philadelphia Eagles. Derailed. Disappointment. Playoffs.
A team heralded in the preseason as the dream team, the Philadelphia Eagles have performed far below expectations, turning in a dismal midseason record of 3-5 and all but extinguishing hopes of a playoff game.
In Game 8, Philadelphia turned in its fourth straight loss against the New Orleans Saints, a 28-13 performance deemed by many as downright embarrassing.
Like Clint Eastwood drawled in the memorable western movie, “I’ve never seen so many men wasted so badly.”
McCoy captured more than 100 yards in New Orleans
For the eternal optimists out there—there could be a few—here are some flickers of hope.
Yes, the Eagles still possess talent on both sides of ball. LeSean McCoy packed on 119 yards on 19 carries in New Orleans. Meanwhile, Michael Vick was again the No. 2 rush leader with 53 yards, out-averaging McCoy by 2.5 yards per carry.
When the offensive line is not in shambles, Vick can and does make plays. DeSean Jackson picked up a clean 100 yards for the offense, which included one 77-yard touchdown, a sight too rare for the Eagles.
On the defensive side, Drew Brees was sacked twice.
Though the team appears to be on a long, slow march to the dreaded 8-8 season—or worse—they are not there yet. Unforeseen things can happen. A change in the lineup could spark the one element in woeful short supply in Philly right now: Hope.
Entering the second half of the season with a weak 3-5 record, the Eagles would need to win at least six of the eight remaining games to earn at least a 9-7 record. That is not something the team has shown it can do.
The Eagles rank third from bottom in the NFC out of 16 teams right now. Is a division win impossible? Looking ahead at the Eagles schedule, most would say it is unlikely. If not, could the Eagles qualify for a wild-card spot? With eight more games, there are eight more possible wins and eight potential losses.
It is the Eagles' to win or to lose.
With there’s-always-next-year vultures circling above Philadelphia, a win against the Dallas Cowboys has become the Birds' last chance to save themselves from the carnage and position the team for a division playoff game against the top-ranked Giants.
After beating Philadelphia in Week 9, Drew Brees noted that the book of the 2012 New Orleans Saints has yet to be written. Meanwhile, for the Eagles, it looks like the same old story.
The Saints hit Vick 18 times on 53 dropbacks and sacked him seven times for a loss of 46 yards.
The Eagles had two turnovers and one of the most talked about plays of the week.
Brandon Boykin threw to a hidden Riley Cooper on a kickoff return, who laid flat in the end zone until jumping up to catch an intended lateral pass from Boykin. Cooper sprinted for a touchdown but the play was negated because the pass was a forward throw and drew a penalty.
Throughout the game, coach Andy Reid looked like a "deer in the headlights." Other Eagles coaches looked disengaged, according to ESPN analyst Sal Paolantonio, speaking on Philadelphia's local sports station 97.5 The Fanatic. “It’s not 'if' it’s 'when'” the 14-year era of Andy Reid in Philadelphia will end, Paolantonio concluded.
The Eagles have now dropped to 21st place in ESPN's power rankings, where NFC East writer Dan Graziano said, "A furious finish could, theoretically, still save Andy Reid's job, but being honest, this team looks dead."
In Philadelphia, the last of the Eagles' diehards cling to the hope of a miraculous resurrection.