Philadelphia Eagles: How the Eagles Can Still Make the Playoffs

Cody Swartz@cbswartz5Senior Writer INovember 22, 2011

Philadelphia Eagles: How the Eagles Can Still Make the Playoffs

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    The Philadelphia Eagles’ 17-10 win over the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football kept the Eagles’ slim playoff chances alive. The win came against a divisional opponent with the season on the line, setting the stage for the Eagles to make a late-season run.

    At 4-6, the Eagles will likely have to win out, meaning every game has the significance of a playoff game. It won’t be easy, but there are some reasons to remain optimistic about the Eagles playing in a postseason game.

4. Strong Offensive Line Performance

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    Howard Mudd has done a phenomenal job this season turning the offensive line from a liability into arguably the team’s biggest strength. This was never more evident than in the win over the New York Giants, a game in which Vince Young received a remarkable amount of pass protection against a fine pass-rushing unit.

    Jason Peters has been a rock as usual at left tackle, but Mudd has waiver-wire acquisition Evan Mathis playing like an All-Pro at left guard. Seven-year veteran Todd Herremans has displayed impressive versatility, playing multiple positions before settling into his current role as Michael Vick’s blind-side protector on the right side of the offensive line. Most importantly, rookie Danny Watkins—who had a dreadful training camp—has started to come into his own as the team’s right guard.

    Given the way this unit is pass blocking for Vick and Young, and run blocking for LeSean McCoy, the Eagles will be difficult to beat in the upcoming weeks.

3. The Defense Plays Like It Did

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    The Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive performance in the 17-10 win over the New York Giants was by far the best Juan Castillo’s unit has looked this season.

    The linebacking unit has greatly improved with the addition of rookie Brian Rolle into the starting lineup, and the defensive line is as good of a unit as any Eagles team has had under Andy Reid.

    Consistently getting to the quarterback will make life easier for $60 million cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who has struggled immensely. If he and Asante Samuel can play to their potential, the defense is good enough to get the Eagles to the playoffs.

2. Collapses by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants

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    The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants both stand two games ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, although they have very difficult upcoming schedules. The Cowboys have the NFL’s easiest second-half schedule while the Giants have the toughest, in terms of opponents’ winning percentage.

    Tony Romo historically has a reputation as a quarterback who struggles in the clutch, and considering the surging Eagles get to play the Cowboys again, Philly could conceivably pass Dallas. The Giants have finished with a worse record in the second half than the first half in all seven seasons under Tom Coughlin. With the Giants already at 0-2 in this year’s second half after starting 6-2, this all but guarantees the streak continues for the eighth straight year.

    The Giants play a brutal second-half schedule the rest of the way—including games against the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers—giving the Eagles a strong possibility of overtaking their rivals.

1. Every Game Becomes a Playoff Game

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    This is really the most important way the Philadelphia Eagles make the playoffs. I believe they have the talent to win every single game they play. They just need to play as if a loss mathematically ends their season.

    At 4-6, this would mean six straight wins to close out the regular season and four more in the playoffs. This certainly isn’t probable, but the talent is there to do it.