Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/13/11

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts under center during the first half against the New York Jets during the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts defeated the Jets 30-17. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The two preeminent stories coming into the 2011 NFL season were the injury to Peyton Manning and where that would leave the Indianapolis Colts and the assembling of the “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles. Both those stories remained in the limelight for the first half of the season, as the Colts swooned towards a winless season and the Dream became a fully-realized nightmare for the Eagles. In the last few weeks, those stories have been buried behind the death-defying Denver Broncos and Green Bay’s pursuit of an undefeated season.
 
Indianapolis has been forgotten for now; once the season ends and they’re officially on the clock, what they decide to do with the first pick in the draft will become the dominant story of the early offseason. Philadelphia has also been forgotten in the last couple weeks, after an embarrassing Thursday night massacre at the feet of Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks. The Eagles were never able to find any semblance of cohesion on defense, unable to keep Michael Vick healthy long enough to find his groove, unable to patch together multiple weeks of quality football. The Nightmare team eventually faded into obscurity, a 4-8 abomination whose only recourse was a massive post- or during-season bloodletting.
 
There’s only one problem. Frankenstein’s Monster isn’t dead yet.
 
After an ugly but encouraging 26-10 win in Miami, the Eagles find themselves at 5-8. The Giants and Cowboys both stand at 7-6 with three games to play. As bad as the Eagles have been (1-5 at home, 1-3 vs the NFC West), they’ve somehow managed to win three of four matchups within the division. The Giants and Cowboys are both 2-2 in the division, so Philly holds the potential edge in a tiebreaker. There are three things Philly needs to put that tiebreaker into play:

1. The Giants must lose at least two of their last three

The G-Men host Washington this week, throw down with the Jets in a high-stakes Christmas Eve turf war, then host Dallas in a season-ending showdown at the Meadowlands


2. Dallas must lose at least two of their last three

The Eagles play in Dallas on Christmas Eve. So if they win that game, they need Dallas to drop either Saturday night’s game in Tampa or the season-ender against the Giants. Philly fans, what’s left of them, would certainly prefer a loss to Tampa, as that would require the Giants to lose just one of their next two, then drop the finale to Dallas


3. The Eagles must win their last three

Jets at home. Cowboys in Big D. Redskins at home. Three winnable games, two in which the Eagles will be favored and one in which they will likely be a small underdog.
 
It’s a lot to ask. The situation is touch-and-go; if both teams win this weekend – both are favorites – Philadelphia will be eliminated from playoff contention. But this is the season of hope. This is the NFL. These are the Giants and Cowboys, legendary December choke-artists. These are still the Dream Team Eagles, oozing talent, still capable of banding together for the most improbable comeback in a season of improbable comebacks.
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