So the Eagles, by virtue of favorable second-half scheduling and a bit of Nick Sirianni realizing that we run the ball in the NFC East, have made the playoffs. They clinched last Sunday after a win over Washington and help from the Packers.
If the season were to end in 17 weeks as it has for the past few decades, this might be the best possible scenario, involving a trip to Tinseltown to take on the Rams. Yes, LA has a very impressive defense, but it’s still Matthew Stafford behind center and he’s been committing a lot of turnovers recently.
Well, we got one more game. It’s against Dallas, at home, and there’s not as much at stake since the Eagles clinched and the Boys wrapped up the division. It’s a Saturday night game, which means it’ll be likely more fun than tense. However, it’s a game that still counts for seeding. So, do we want the Eagles to win and perhaps improve their stock, or lose and stay at the seventh seed?
Well, it doesn’t seem to matter.
Joe Ferreria (@JoeNFL) was nice enough to put together this chart of possibilities for Twitter. Here’s a quick rundown of the results. Based on the twelve possible outcomes around Cowboys-Eagles, Rams-Niners, Buccaneers-Panthers, Seahawks-Cardinals, and Saints-Falcons, the Eagles chances to face:
- Tampa Bay: 7 of 12
- Los Angeles: 2 of 12
- Arizona: 2 of 12
- Dallas: 1 of 12
While the Eagles are a much better team in Week 17 than they were in Week 7, there is one incontrovertible fact about this season: Entering Week 18, the Eagles are 0-6 against teams who are either in or remain eligible for the postseason. They have yet to defeat a team that will finish over .500. Of course, they can do so against Dallas with a win, which would also mean they won’t face the Cowboys in the wild card round.
Should they win Saturday night, there are four scenarios that see them playing Tampa (both options if they are the six seed), with one each against Arizona and LA. If the Eagles lose, one of the chances against Tampa becomes a Dallas game (we all know how that ended up after the 2009 season).
Dallas and Tampa are the two best overall DVOA teams in the league this year. Tom Brady easily led the Bucs to victory in October at the Linc. He is probably the best postseason field general in NFL history. However, his team is losing stars to injury and ill-temper, so there’s some chaos on the horizon. They also have a really good defense that would challenge Philly’s league-best ground game.
The Rams and Cardinals also have rush defenses in the league’s top 11 in yards allowed per game. Both teams have struggled down the stretch, with the Cardinals losing their division lead and now facing a wild card spot. If there’s one major difference between the teams, it’s turnover ratio. The Cardinals are +11 for the season, while the Rams are only +2 (for reference, the Eagles are +1 and have the lowest number of takeaways – 16 – among NFC playoff teams).