The season from hell breathes new life this week after the Eagles beat the Dolphins 26-10 yesterday afternoon in Miami . Eagles fans have surely written this team off as many times as they’ve recollected shards of hope that they might muster enough wins to somehow defy all logic and sneak into the playoffs. As of now, such a scenario is still mathematically possible. In fact, after the Giants beat the Cowboys last night, it’s even more tantalizing given the simplicity of the scenario. The Eagles need to win their last three games, and both the Giants and Cowboys need to finish the season on a 1-2 slide. Doesn’t seem as impossible as it once did, right?
Personally, I’ve never given up on the idea, the possibility, of the playoffs. Until the Eagles are mathematically eliminated, I will not give up hope, even as friends and relatives openly laugh in my face. Of course, the odds have been extremely slim for almost the entirety of the season, but as long as there’s a chance, I’ll be rooting for the playoffs.
It’s unforunate though that a win at this time of the year feels more like an ominous déjà vu of false hope (the season that could have been) rather than an actual step in the right direction. Yes, the Miami Dolphins are not a very good football team. At the same time, they had won four of their last five games and were heading into their match-up with the Eagles as one of the hotter teams in the NFL.
The best thing to take away from yesterday’s game was the Eagles defense. Again, they weren’t facing a very good offense, but they got the job done and then some, with 9 sacks and 3 turnovers on the day. We know that the Eagles are capable of putting up points and we know that they’re capable of defensive performances such as this. Unfortunately, the only time we’ve seen them do both against a quality opponent has been against the Cowboys on October 30th, where they were firing on all cylinders en route to a 34-7 blowout. Besides that game, we literally have no reason to believe that the Eagles are capable of finishing the season 3-0, let alone making any sort of noise in the playoffs.
And yet, knowing that they’re capable of a dominant performance against a solid team is still enough for me to foolishly convince myself that they’re also capable of doing it seven times in a row. What I mean to say is that the hardest part in all of this will be the winning out aspect, regardless of what the Cowboys and Giants do. If the Cowboys beat the Bucs this coming week, things won’t be looking quite as good, but even still, there will be a chance. The Eagles can do their part to beat the Cowboys once more in week 16, but for now they must focus on the New York Jets, who will be coming into Philly equally desperate to make their own playoff revival. The Giants will next face the Redskins, who always play tough against their divisional foes.
The overarching point in all of this is that as long as the Eagles beat the Jets, their playoff hopes can continue one more week, regardless of the Giants and Cowboys. At this point in the season, given all that’s happened and given how upset and frustrated I still am at all the missed opportunities, I’m still thankful that the Eagles have a chance. Once you’re in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter how you got there. The Eagles have playoff experience, they match up fairly well against the Packers, and they clearly have a lot to prove. I may be setting myself up for further heartbreak simply by entertaining these notions, but this is what NFL fans live for–a chance to witness the impossible, a chance to make a miracle run to the Super Bowl. With the season on the line every week from here on out, I feel no shame in hoping…as long as there’s still something to hope for.