November 14, 2021
If you asked Eagles fans across the Delaware Valley which they'd prefer — a one-and-done trip to the playoffs or a top-10 pick (to pair with their likely top-10 pick from the Dolphins and whatever they get from the Colts) — you'd probably get a pretty even split.
On the one hand, the Eagles do have that Miami pick that Howie Roseman tactfully acquired last April when maneuvering for DeVonta Smith. And, they have either a second or first rounder coming from Indianapolis as compensation for Carson Wentz last winter. Draft positioning isn't really as important this year.
But until Sunday, when the Eagles played perhaps their best 60 minutes of football of the year (at least since their Week 1 thumping of the Falcons), the playoffs weren't really a legitimate consideration.
Well, they are now.
Here's the NFC Wild Card picture following the events of Sunday afternoon:
After that, you get six teams with three wins that are between one and two games back. There are a lot of teams contending for that final spot. But the Eagles are better than the Falcons and the Panthers, two teams they already beat this year, right? The Vikings have been decent this season and are likely the best team vying for a spot in the postseason tournament.
They also boast one of the easiest schedules down the stretch, after they handled the Broncos. Next week, they face the Saints — a team that lost in Week 10 — and later have the Jets to go along with two apiece against the Giants and Washington.
The schedule looks like it'll be a big boost for the Eagles. And they're playing their best football of late, as they smoked the lowly Lions, nearly handled the Chargers a week ago and were lights out on both sides of the football against Denver.
So, we've answered the question as to whether they can make the playoffs. Yes, in a wide open NFC and with some of their easiest games still ahead of them, they certainly can, even with the Cowboys leaps and bounds ahead of them in the division. But should they?
As important as collecting assets and improving draft positioning are, it would be hard not to argue that having postseason experience for what is becoming a younger and younger roster would be a huge bonus. It would also be valuable to have this team, and rookie head coach Nick Sirianni, playing meaningful division games come December.
And, as the team tries to determine whether they want to stick with Jalen Hurts in 2022 (and beyond), draft a rookie QB, or use their cap space and draft assets to trade for a veteran star, having Hurts in the pressure cooker that is Philadelphia during a playoff run would teach the team even more about what they have in young QB. With a game fit for a franchise QB under his belt in the Mile High City, Hurts leading the Birds to the playoffs would certainly solidify him as the team's QB1.
It seems pretty clear that an unexpected playoff run would be hugely beneficial for the Eagles as they continue to "re-tool." But it's very early — very, very early. The Eagles have seven games left this season and almost anything can happen, from them running the table to them absolutely falling into pieces.
But fans will happily take their current 4-6 record, an easy schedule ahead, and a path to playing in the postseason any day of the week.
We'll just have to see if it can continue.
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