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December 01, 2019

Week 13 non-Eagles Sunday rooting guide

In non-Philadelphia Eagles news this week, the Birds are already major beneficiaries of other action around the league, as the Buffalo Bills provided a Happy Thanksgiving by stomping all over the reeling Dallas Cowboys.

On Friday, we took a deep look at the Eagles' tiebreaker scenarios with Dallas, and as we've sort of gathered for most of this season, the division is likely going to come down to their Week 16 matchup in Philly.

The Eagles have virtually no chance of getting a wildcard berth at this point, so from that perspective many of the games around the league will have little effect on them. Here, instead, we'll view a number of games on Sunday's (and Monday's) slate through the lens of ideal opponents to have to face in the playoffs.

If the Eagles win the division, they'll almost certainly get the 4 seed, which means that they'll face the 5 seed, which is the wildcard team with the best record. The current standings indicate that the most likely opponent will be whichever of the Seahawks (9-2) or 49ers (10-1) don't win the NFC West, though the possibility exists that the Eagles could also face the Vikings or Packers, who are both 8-3.

As such, the question that should be asked is, "Which team would be the best matchup for the Eagles in the first round of the playoffs?" I would rank them like so:

  1. Rams: It's a longshot for the Rams to be able to catch all the wildcard teams ahead of them (the Seahawks have a three-game lead and a head-to-head win over them), but obviously, the Rams are the worst team in this bunch, and the Eagles have beaten them in each of the last two seasons.
  2. Packers: The Eagles already beat them once this season on the road and on a short week. I have to imagine their confidence would be high heading into this matchup.
  3. Vikings: Yes, the Vikings obliterated the Eagles earlier this season, but that was at a time when the Eagles' secondary was in shambles. With a vastly improved secondary over the last month, the Eagles would be better equipped to beat this team, especially in bad weather conditions. Also, while Kirk Cousins has had success against the Eagles, I still like my chances beating him over, say, Russell Wilson.
  4. 49ers: The 49ers are clearly very good, and their defensive line gives them a chance to win it all. However, there's the "inexperienced quarterback in the playoffs" factor. Last year, heading into the Eagles-Bears game, we pointed out that (at the time) 31 active NFL quarterbacks had started at least 1 playoff game. Only 10 won their first playoff start. That would be an overall record of 10-21, or a winning percentage of 0.323. They were 6-12 in home games, and 4-9 on the road. Sure enough, the Birds beat Mitchell Trubisky, a neophyte playoff quarterback. I like the 49ers as a divisional round opponent, but not before then.
  5. Seahawks: There are two different ways to look at the Seahawks-Eagles matchup from a week ago. If you're an optimist, you can say, "The Eagles played like crap, and still kept it close." If you're a pessimist, you might think, "The Seahawks didn't play well either, and they won pretty comfortably anyway. What happens when they're actually on their game?" I lean toward the latter. For whatever reason, the Seahawks really just seem to have the Eagles' number.  

Anyway, some of you may disagree with my above rankings, though they will serve as the basis for the ideal winners this week, which are bolded below:

Vikings at Seahawks: As noted above, the Vikings would be a better matchup for the Eagles in the wildcard round, and a win here would be a good start.

• Packers at Giants: To get the Seahawks out of the 5 seed spot, both the Vikings AND Packers would have to pass them. 

49ers at Ravens: It's probably best if the 49ers just run away with the 1 seed. As noted above, they would be an ideal divisional round opponent instead of the Saints.

Rams at Cardinals: Forget about the Rams overtaking the Seahawks (and others) for the 5 seed. Instead, root for the Rams to win because they play the Cowboys Week 15. It's better if they still have something to play for in that game.

Washington at Panthers: The Panthers are done, and it's better if the Washington team screws up their draft position.

Jets at Bengals: It's best if the Bengals keep losing, and secure the No. 1 overall pick instead of the Giants or Washington team.

Irrelevant to the Eagles: 

  1. Titans at Colts
  2. Browns at Steelers
  3. Buccaneers at Jaguars
  4. Chargers at Broncos
  5. Raiders at Chiefs
  6. Patri*ts at Texans

MORE: Eagles vs. Dolphins: Predictions, odds and more | Week 13 NFL picks

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