Make no mistake. The Philadelphia Eagles are hosting the Dallas Cowboys in a prime-time game that will undoubtedly have postseason implications for both teams.
The Eagles, at 2-4, have been the most disappointing team in the National Football League this season. After an offseason that brought in six Pro Bowl players and two former All-Pros, the Eagles publicly stated their Super Bowl aspirations. They then went out on the field and choked away fourth-quarter leads in three of their first four games.
The Cowboys, at 3-3, have also been disappointing this season. They blew games against the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, and New England Patriots, and could easily be 6-0 if not for fourth quarter collapses. They also are facing a must-win tonight but unlike the Eagles, it likely won’t affect the future of their franchise.
For the Eagles, it very well could. If the Eagles lose, they will drop to 2-5 and face a virtually impossible climb to the postseason.
The Giants are 5-2 after a comeback victory against the winless Miami Dolphins. The Cowboys would be 4-3. The Redskins, who are losing to the Bills 13-0, will likely drop top 3-4, but their season pretty much ended when they replaced Rex Grossman with John Beck at quarterback.
The Eagles can’t lose today and stay in the playoff race. And if they do lose, meaning they almost certainly will not qualify for the postseason in 2011, head coach Andy Reid’s job may be in serious jeopardy.
It would have been one thing if the Eagles won 10 or 11 games and lost in the playoffs. That’s been the theme for the past few seasons.
But after the tumultuous offseason for Reid, including the naming of Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator, the Eagles cannot miss the postseason.
A 10-6 record and an early postseason loss may still cost Reid his job. So what would a 7-9 record or 8-8 record do?
I really do think that it would signal the end of the Andy Reid era.
Reid has faced big games before. The 2008 do-or-die regular season finale is the first one that jumps into my mind. But I don’t think he would have lost his job if the Eagles lost.
That’s changed now.
The Eagles have to win tonight. Any way possible. They absolutely must win.
This is the single biggest regular season game of Reid’s 13-year career.