Eagles Wake-Up Call: Exploring Playoff Scenarios
Even though they were off on Sunday, the Eagles were affected by games around the NFL. Below is a look, Q&A-style, at where things stand for the Birds in terms of playoff positioning.
What did Green Bay’s win mean for them?
The Packers held on for a 26-21 victory over the Patriots at Lambeau Field. Green Bay (9-3) has the same record as the Eagles, but owns the tiebreak because of last month’s win. The Packers have the Falcons, Bills, Bucs and Lions in the final four weeks. They will be favorites in all four games and could win out. While acknowledging that anything is possible and that there’s still a lot of football to be played, the guess here is that Green Bay will win the NFC North, and the Eagles will have a tough time leapfrogging the Packers in terms of seeding.
What did Arizona’s loss mean for them?
The Cardinals lost consecutive games for the first time all season. They got down early, 17-0, to the Falcons and never recovered. Drew Stanton was picked off twice, and Arizona turned it over three times. The Cardinals have scored 21 points in their last eight quarters. Their remaining schedule is tough: Kansas City, at St. Louis, Seattle, at San Francisco. The Cardinals are 9-3, and if the regular season ended today, they’d be the top seed in the NFC. But in a month, they could end up being on the outside looking in. Like the Packers, the Cardinals own the tiebreak over the Eagles.
What are the implications of Sunday’s game against Seattle?
The Seahawks come to the Linc with a lot to play for. Seattle (8-4) is one game back in the NFC West and has already beaten the Cardinals once. They have won five of their last six and have only allowed six points total in the past two weeks. The Seahawks would own the tiebreak over the Packers. And this weekend’s game will obviously determine whether they own the tiebreak over the Eagles. Not everything has gone smoothly for the defending champs, but the Seahawks have a legitimate shot at earning a top-two seed in the NFC.
Where do the Eagles stand currently?
Let’s start here: If they go 3-1 down the stretch, they will clinch the NFC East. And no, it does not matter who that loss is against. If they go 2-2 but beat the Cowboys, they still win the division. If they go 2-2 and lose to the Cowboys, there are a number of different scenarios that could play out.
If the season ended today, the Eagles would be the No. 3 seed behind the Cardinals and Packers. They would play the wild-card Detroit Lions at the Linc in the first round and would have to travel to Lambeau in the divisional round. The Falcons would be the four seed, and the Seahawks would be the five seed if the season ended today.
Can the Eagles earn a top-two seed?
Their best chance for earning a first-round bye is to beat the Seahawks on Sunday. A victory would give them the tiebreaker over Seattle. The Seahawks could still win the division with a victory over the Cardinals in Week 16, but the Eagles would have a leg up on them in terms of seeding. The teams to root against overall are: Seattle, Green Bay, Arizona and Detroit.
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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Zach Berman of the Inquirer catches up with DeMeco Ryans:
Ryans said he believes going through the injury once is an advantage because he knows what to expect and what works. But he’s also four years older than he was then. Still, Ryans seemed perplexed at the notion that he might not return as the same player.
“I don’t see why not,” Ryans said. “I came back from the first one. This doesn’t make me think I can’t come back from this one.”
Mike Sielski of the Inquirer writes about a Sam Hinkie–Chip Kelly connection:
On the promise that the 76ers will be better positioned to become an elite franchise, Hinkie has built a team that has lost a Sixers-record 16 games to start this season and that could set an NBA standard for dreadfulness. But the best reason to believe that Hinkie, the team’s general manager, knows what he’s doing, that a stronger Sixers roster will eventually rise from this rubble, is his willingness to consider and embrace the ideas of others, so long as those ideas hold up to logic and all available evidence.
It’s there that he has found a kinship with Kelly, who last season coached the Eagles to the NFC East title and this season has them at 9-3 and in first place again ahead of Sunday’s matchup against the defending Super Bowl champions – the Seattle Seahawks.
We’ll talk to Kelly at the NovaCare Complex and begin prep for another game.