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December 10, 2023

Week 14 non-Eagles rooting guide

The Eagles have little margin for error in their pursuit of the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Here are the teams Birds fans should root for to help that path move along.

Eagles NFL
120923GenoSmith Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles will hope to get some help from Geno Smith and the Seahawks on Sunday against the 49ers.

Each week during the NFL season we lay out a rooting guide for non-Eagles games on the schedule. And yes, I'm aware that most of the below is obvious. Ideal winners bolded.

NFC East

The standings:

NFC East Record Division GB 
Eagles 10-2 3-0 
Cowboys 9-3 2-1 
Giants 4-8 2-2 
Commanders 4-9 0-5 6.5 

The NFC East is a two-team race between the Eagles and Cowboys, as usual. As a reminder, the tiebreakers for the division are as follows:

  1. Head-to-head games
  2. Division record
  3. Record against common opponents

The Eagles now only have a 1-game lead in the NFC East after their loss to the 49ers Week 13. They do still have a head-to-head win over the Cowboys under their belt, as well as a 3-0 record in the division. 

A look at their common opponents so far, should the tiebreaking process get that far: 

Common Opponent PHI DAL WAS NYG 
49ers Loss Loss  Loss 
Cardinals  Loss Win Win 
 RamsWin Win   
 Seahawks Win Loss Loss 
 BillsWin  Loss Loss 
 DolphinsWin  Loss Loss 
 JetsLoss Win  Loss 
 PatriotsWin Win Win Win 

The next tiebreaker after common opponents is conference record. The Cowboys' loss to the Cardinals (an NFC team) is worse than the Eagles' loss to the Jets (an AFC team). 

Obviously the Eagles have a regular season game of extreme importance against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. If they win, they'll all but wrap up the NFC East. If they lose, they would still win the division if they ran the table the rest of the way, but they would have zero margin for error if Dallas keeps winning as well.

There's only one other NFC East game this week, the Packers at Giants, but I think the Packers are the more relevant team to keep an eye on, so we'll get to that game in a different section momentarily.

The Commanders are on their bye.

Threats for the 1 seed

The NFC standings:

Seed NFC standings Record Conf record 
Eagles 10-2 6-1 
49ers 9-3 7-1 
Lions 9-3 6-2 
Falcons 6-6 4-4 
Cowboys 9-3 6-3 
Vikings 6-6 6-3 
Packers 6-6 4-3 
Rams 6-6 4-4 
Seahawks 6-6 4-4 
10 Buccaneers 5-7 4-4 
11 Saints 5-7 2-5 
12 Giants 4-8 3-4 
13 Bears4-8 3-5 
14 Commanders4-9 2-7 
15 Cardinals3-10 2-6 
16 Panthers1-11 0-8 

As you can see, the Cowboys aside, the Lions and 49ers are the Eagles' biggest threats for the 1 seed in the NFC.

Seahawks at 49ers: The Eagles are the only 2-loss team in the NFL. Every other team in the NFL has at least 3. However, their margin for error in terms of earning the 1 seed was wiped out last weekend when they lost to the the Niners. If they lose another game and the Niners keep winning, the Niners would hold the tiebreaker advantage for the 1 seed because of their head-to-head win (duh).

• Lions at Bears: The Lions still have a puncher's chance at the 1 seed, so it would be ideal if they lost this game.

Looking ahead to the playoffs

A quick look at what the wildcard round matchups would be if the season ended today:

• (7) Packers at (2) 49ers
• (6) Vikings at (3) Lions
• (5) Cowboys at (4) Falcons

As we mentioned last week, the Eagles were very fortunate last year that the 6-seed Giants beat the 3-seed Vikings in the wildcard round and got to face the Giants in the divisional round. This year, if the Eagles are able to land the 1 seed, ideally in the divisional round they would get to play the 4-seed (the NFCS champ), the 6-seed, or the 7-seed. Again, if the season ended today, those teams would be the (4) Falcons, (6) Vikings, or (7) Packers.

It's best for the Eagles if the teams that occupy those lower wildcard seeds have a chance of knocking off the Lions and 49ers.

The teams competing for those lower seeds are the Vikings, Packers, Seahawks, and Rams. In my opinion, the Packers pose the biggest threat in the playoffs to the division winners, as Jordan Love has begun to play at a high level. If the Eagles earn the 1 seed, it's a good thing if they make the playoffs, because they would likely give a team like the 49ers more competition, than, say, the Seahawks. If the Eagles don't earn the 1 seed and are forced to play on wildcard weekend then it would not be ideal to face the Packers, in my opinion. Does that all make sense? Anyway, we'll have to wait to see how the playoff seeding plays out, but here are the NFC playoff contenders' games:

  1. Rams at Ravens
  2. Vikings at Raiders
  3. Packers at Giants
One quick note on the Ravens: The Eagles will hope they stay healthy in advance of their Week 16 matchup against the 49ers. That same premise also applies to the Bills and Dolphins, who both play the Cowboys.

Draft pick watch

Panthers at Saints: The Eagles own the Saints' second-round pick, so it's ideal if a team other than them wins the NFC South. If the Saints lose to the Panthers, they can all but kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. Let's fire up the PFF mock draft simulator

• Round 1: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
• Round 2 (from Saints): Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
• Round 2: Barrett Carter, LB, Clemson
• Round 3: TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
• Round 4: Cooper Beebe, OG, Kansas State
• Round 5: Kris Abrams-Draine, CB, Missouri
• Round 5: Jordan Burch, EDGE, Oregon
• Round 5: Oronde Gadsden II, WR, Syracuse
• Round 6: Brant Kuithe, TE, Utah

• Buccaneers at Falcons: The two other NFC South teams play each other. The Falcons (6-6) have a better record than the Buccaneers (5-7), so it's best if they just extend their lead over the Saints.

Irrelevant to the Eagles

  1. Colts at Bengals
  2. Jaguars at Browns
  3. Texans at Jets
  4. Bills at Chiefs
  5. Broncos at Chargers
  6. Titans at Dolphins

Byes: Commanders, Cardinals

MORE: Week 14 NFL picks

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