The Philadelphia Eagles have done what was unthinkable two months ago. They are officially in the NFL playoffs. Green Bay’s 37-10 victory over Minnesota on Sunday Night Football clinched them a trip to the postseason party.
Or the dance, as Lane Johnson called it after the Eagles’ 20-16 win. San Francisco’s 23-7 win over Houston was the other domino they needed to fall. Once the Packers finished it off, there were no more shoes to drop. The Eagles (9-7) are currently the No. 7 seed in the NFC.
Philadelphia would travel out to California to take on the Los Angeles Rams (12-4) in the wild-card round, if the season ended today. It doesn’t. Now the Eagles will have to decide whether they want to rest their starters in Week 18 or play them to try and move up the playoff ladder.
While the 49ers (9-7) own the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Eagles, there is still a path to the No. 6 seed for Philly. San Francisco takes on Los Angeles in Week 18 in a game the Rams need to win to retain the No. 2 seed.
Yes, things are getting interesting. Even more so considering the Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys on January 9. Yes, the hated stinkin’ Dallas Cowboys (11-5) are coming to town in the final regular-season game. And, guess what?
The Cowboys can still move up to grab the No. 3 seed if they get some help, namely with losses from the Cardinals (11-5) and Rams (12-4). They can’t finish any worse than No. 4. Dallas blew its chance at the No. 2 seed by losing 25-22 to Arizona.
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Eagles Possible Playoff Opponents
Los Angeles Rams (12-4): This is the most likely wild-card round opponent for the Eagles. They own tiebreakers over Dallas and Tampa Bay and split with Arizona. The Rams – all apologies to so-called “boy wonder” Sean McVay – would be the best possible matchup for Philly.
Matt Stafford might be a one-time Pro Bowler but he’s clearly the most inconsistent of the five other signal-callers in the dance – remember, the Eagles cannot play San Francisco (Trey Lance/Jimmy Garoppolo) – and has played in only three playoff games. He’s thrown six interceptions over his last three games. Also, the Eagles had won six straight over the Rams prior to losing last season – a 37-19 defeat on September 20, 2020.
Arizona Cardinals (11-5): The Eagles have surprisingly struggled against their one-time NFC East rivals over the years. Arizona holds a 60-56-5 all-time advantage over Philly. And the Cardinals beat the Eagles 33-26 in a wild shoot-out game last December. Kyler Murray threw for 406 yards; Jalen Hurts went for 338. The two have similar skillsets, so scout team practices would be fun.
Murray is a matchup nightmare, one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in football – legs and arm, second to none – and was the MVP front-runner until spraining an ankle. He’s back and better than ever. Also, If the two teams faced off this year in the postseason there would one savory new wrinkle: Zach Ertz – the beloved Eagles Super Bowl champion – suits up for Arizona. Ditto for Jordan Hicks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4): Seeing Tom Brady in January is akin to welcoming the Grim Reaper into your house. Don’t do it. Don’t ask for it. In February? Against the NFC East? Well, we like our odds there. Seriously, though, Tampa Bay has been a tricky team to figure out through 16 games. The Bucs have been decimated by injuries, especially at the skill positions: Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, Giovani Bernard, and Antonio Brown’s craziness.
The defensive side has been hit hard, too, especially in the secondary. Could be a dream scenario for a physical team (hint, hint) that loves to win in the trenches (hint, hint), right? Maybe. The Eagles only lost by six points, 28-22, when the two teams met on October 14. But, once again, do you really want to see Brady? I don’t.
Dallas Cowboys (11-5): This would be the perfect ending to a Cinderella season that came out of nowhere. Beat the Cowboys in the final game to move up the playoff ladder for the chance to see them again in the wild-card round. You can’t script it much better than that, plus the Cowboys looked vulnerable during Sunday’s 25-22 loss to Arizona. The Cardinals held the NFL’s second-best offense – Tampa Bay is No. 1, 405.8 yards per game – to 301 total yards, with a good chunk of that Cowboy yardage coming in the fourth quarter.
Problem is, when Dallas is humming on offense they are unstoppable. Dak Prescott is as efficient and deadly as any quarterback in the NFL. He has thrown for 4,154 yards and 32 touchdowns (10 interceptions) despite missing a game. He is surrounded by talent, too. Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard in the backfield, along with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb at receiver. They are a dangerous team. And NFC East champions for a reason.