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With winter approaching, the NFL is getting down to crunch time. With each passing week, the stakes ratchet up; we’re still in the regular season, but teams are already facing must-win games. Doug Pederson‘s Philadelphia Eagles are one of those clubs.

Head coach Doug Pederson's Philadelphia Eagles are in danger of missing the NFL playoffs.
Doug Pederson thinks that his Philadelphia Eagles are a “long shot” to make the playoffs. | Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After a brutal loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Pederson took a dim view of his team’s potential playoff chances. But is the coach correct in calling the Philadelphia Eagles a long shot to make the playoffs?

The Philadelphia Eagles disappointing 2019

The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2019 NFL season with high expectations. The team famously captured a Super Bowl title in 2017 and returned to the playoffs as a Wild Card team in 2018. Tight end Zach Ertz even called the current Eagles squad the most talented incarnation yet.

Philadelphia got off to an uneven start, winning three of their first five games. Their inconsistency continued through their next four games; the Eagles entered the bye 5-4 record, unable to build any solid run of form. After they returned from their week off, however, the bottom fell out.

Philly dropped three straight games, capping off that run with a stinker against the lowly Miami Dolphins. Their offense, from Carson Wentz on down, has been mediocre; their defense has been a bit better but isn’t exactly lighting the NFC East on fire. The entire roster is riddled with aging players and injuries. With each passing week, the season keeps slipping aways.

Doug Pederson’s pessimistic outlook

On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles had a chance to bring themselves level on record with the division-leading Cowboys; while Dallas still would have held the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Doug Pederson would have felt good about his team’s position. Then the Eagles lost to the Dolphins.

The Eagles built up a comfortable lead in Miami, only to see it slip away. They were caught napping on a trick play, committed 10 penalties, and allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to march up and down the field. After the game, Pederson offered a stark assessment of his team.

“We self-destructed in a couple areas today, and it just hurt us,” Pederson said. “And we didn’t make enough plays; they made ’em, we didn’t. So those are the things that I talk about when I talk about being a disciplined team.”

Pederson also refused to give up on the season; at the same time, however, he didn’t sound full of optimism. “As crazy as this is — I would say it’s a long shot — but we’re not out of it,” the Eagles head coach said when asked about his squad’s playoffs chances. “We do have four of our divisional [matchups] coming up and the guys have got to understand that. It’s my job to make them understand that we’re still fighting and still coming to work this week.”

Is Doug Pederson right about the Eagles’ playoff chances?

Mathematically, the Eagles are a longshot to make the playoffs. 538 currently gives them a 35% chance of qualifying for the postseason; the division-leading Dallas Cowboys, for comparison, have a 65% shot.

Some factors are working in Philadelphia’s favor, however. The Eagles have a fairly easy schedule coming up, featuring two dates with the New York Giants, one with the Cowboys, and one with the Redskins. Dallas, on the other hand, will face the Bears, Rams, Eagles, and Redskins. The way things are trending in Texas, it’s not hard to imagine that they’ll drop at least one of those games.

If the Eagles win out in all of their remaining games—including the head-to-head match-up with Dallas—they’ll climb back to the top of the NFC East standings and likely hold most of the tie-breaking factors. After losing to the Dolphins on Sunday, though, Philadelphia can’t count any games as safe wins.

The Eagles might be a long shot to make the playoffs, but, at this point, it’s the only shot that Doug Pederson has left.