Unfortunately for the Eagles, points aren't awarded for the "das" in football – couldas, shouldas, wouldas.
So for every chance they had to beat the Cowboys, Bears, Redskins and Giants, the Eagles are awarded exactly zero credit. No leeway in tiebreakers will be granted. The reward is simply four losses to their name, a difficult position to be in with two strong divisions dominating the NFC.
But the Eagles are insistent there's no reason to give in yet. But they have to realize what they are to move forward – a 5-4 team tied for third in a division that tends to block upward mobility through luck. They've got to win.
"I think your record is really who you are at this point. I know we're a better team than what our record really is, but that's the only way you keep score," running back Brian Westbrook said. "Your record is what it is. For us, we have to go out there and turn things around so that our record will be better."
The Eagles Are Far From Done
In recent years, teams have overcome midseason adversity to win it all. Here are some examples ...
In 2000, the Baltimore Ravens started the season 5-4, including a three-game losing streak in which the scored a total of 15 points (weeks 7-9) … they went on to win 7 straight games, finish 12-4 and win the Super Bowl.
In 2001, the New England Patriots started the season 1-3 and improved to just 5-5 before winning their final six games and capturing their first Super Bowl trophy.
In 2005, the Pittsburgh Steelers started the season 7-5, including a miserable three-game losing streak in weeks 11-13. They finished 11-5 and won the Super Bowl as a Wild Card playoff team.
In 2007, the Giants were blown out, 41-17, at home to the Minnesota Vikings to send their record to 7-4 and endured many media and fans calling for head coach Tom Coughlin's job. They rebounded to finish 10-6 and win the Super Bowl.
A game at Cincinnati against the woeful 1-8 Bengals seems to be a decent place to rev the engines, at the very least. In general, the Eagles haven't had too many problems with teams they shouldn't have problems with – their five wins come with an 18-point average margin of victory.
In ways, it's much like the Nov. 2 game against Seattle, a team with an inexperienced quarterback treading into the deep end with little around him to keep him afloat.
But the Eagles don't have the luxury of relaxing at all this week, if they ever did in the first place. The Bengals are 1-8, but are coming off of a bye week after a big win against Jacksonville during Week 9. Running back Cedric Benson gained over 100 yards for the first time since joining the team, and the Eagles gave up 219 yards on the ground against New York last week.
And the most interestingly named pair of wide receivers in the business, Chad Ocho Cinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, should at least keep the secondary occupied.
The Eagles don't have the opportunity to make a statement with any singular win now or in the coming few weeks. Their statement will have to be from stringing together multiple victories, and then rebounding against division opponents. They have to start with the Bengals.
"We understand that (their) record means nothing," head coach Andy Reid said. "They have a lot of talent."
There's a difference between a 1-8 squad likely playing for pride and a 5-4 team that needs wins badly. A 1-9 Bengals team might mean nothing to Philadelphia, but a 2-8 Bengals team might as well define disaster.
That's why the veterans in the Eagles' locker room know they've got to get up to play this one.
They could win, and, on paper, they should win. But add another to the list. They have to win.
"This is not a new thing. We have been on winning teams in the past and we have faced teams that are so-called not-winning teams, if people want to say that. We are not saying that. We are saying that we need to go out and win this football game," free safety Brian Dawkins said. "You can't look past anybody. And, we're not undefeated, either, so there is no room at all for us to look past anybody or to look down on anybody."