At 3-5, hyped Eagles face long, uphill battle to make playoffs

PHILADELPHIA -- All the preseason hype about the Eagles' potential is gone. They're just trying to salvage the season at this point.

What was supposed to be a dream campaign is turning into a nightmare. The Eagles fell to 3-5 with a 30-24 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night.

Since 1978 when the NFL went to a 16-game regular-season schedule, Philadelphia has been 3-5 or worse after eight games six times.

Each of the previous five times ended without a trip to the playoffs.

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"It's not early anymore, it's getting late," Eagles tight end Brent Celek said. "We're halfway through the season and we have a terrible record. In all reality, we have to go on a streak. It's that simple."

In 1986, Buddy Ryan's first year as coach, the Eagles began 3-5 and finished 5-10-1.

In 1991, Rich Kotite's first year as coach, the Eagles started 3-5 and had lost quarterback Randall Cunningham for the season. The league's top-ranked defense rallied to a 10-6 finish, but it wasn't enough to reach the postseason.

In 1998, Ray Rhodes' last year as coach, the Eagles began 1-7 and finished 3-13, the losingest season in franchise history.

In 1999, first-year coach Andy Reid's team began 2-6 and finished 5-11.

In 2007, Reid's team began 3-5 and finished 8-8.

This is the sixth time. Will it end any differently?

"I think in our powers and in our mind, we want to go out there and succeed and do everything the correct way, but at the end of the day, it's human nature," Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said.

What the Eagles need to do is win at least six of their final eight games to reach 9-7 and hope that's good enough to win the NFC East. They might need to win seven of their final eight to get to 10-6, and that loss can't come against the first-place New York Giants (6-2) in two weeks at Met Life Stadium.

As far as a wild-card berth goes, the Eagles aren't in a good position with head-to-head losses to two other NFC wild-card hopefuls, Atlanta and Chicago.

"The mind frame is that we can always catch (the Giants)," running back LeSean McCoy said. "Everyone is still going to be positive. We just have to do it. They're rolling right now, and we can't focus on them. We have to just try to play our game, get our wins and finish out our games."

Over the final eight weeks, the Eagles play five teams who are .500 or worse and three who are better than .500.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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