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December 17, 2022

Week 15 non-Eagles rooting guide

Eagles NFL
121722DougPederson Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK


The Philadelphia Eagles will play their second of three straight road games against the Bears on Sunday. While they're trying to take care of their own business in Chicago, the Birds can benefit from other games around the NFL. Ideal winners bolded.

NFC East

Let's first update the NFC East standings:

NFC East GB 
Eagles 12 
Cowboys 10 

• Cowboys at Jaguars (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.): The Cowboys nearly lost at home to the worst team in the NFL last weekend. We'll see if Micah Parsons and the Cowboys can keep Jalen Hurts' name out of their mouths long enough to focus on a dangerous opponent in Doug Pederson and the Jags.

• Giants at Commanders (SNF): Whichever team wins this game is very likely to make the playoffs. Whichever team loses this game is unlikely to make the playoffs. I think the instinctive thing to do is to root for the lesser team to make the playoffs, which in my opinion is the Giants. However, there's perhaps some logic in rooting for the team that has a better chance of knocking off, saaayyy, the 49ers in the wildcard round, which in my opinion is the Commanders. I lean toward the Commanders being the more ideal team to make the tourney. 

The 1 seed / 2 seed

• Colts at Vikings (Saturday, 1:00 p.m.): The 1 seed in the NFC is almost certainly going to be won by the Eagles or Cowboys, but the Vikings and 49ers still have a miniscule shot. Whoever gets the 2 seed between the 10-3 Vikings and the 10-4 49ers is now probably the more interesting debate. The Niners are the biggest threat to the Eagles in the NFC, in my opinion, so the harder the road for them, the better.

Assuming the Eagles land the 1 seed, they won't have to play either the 2 seed or 3 seed until the NFC Championship game. It's better if the relatively unthreatening Vikings earn the 2 seed, so that they get to play at home in the divisional round, thus putting them in a better position to be the Eagles' opponent to go to the Super Bowl in the NFC Championship Game.

Other NFC wildcard contenders

Lions at Jets (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.): As we noted above, it's probably better for the Eagles if the Niners are forced to go through a team like the Commanders, who have upset potential, than the Giants, who kinda don't. Using that same logic, the Lions are hot, and could pose problems for a team like the Niners in the wildcard round.

The NFC South

• Bengals at Buccaneers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m.): Assuming the Eagles win the NFC East and earn the 1 seed, the winner of the NFC South is almost certainly going to host the Cowboys in the wildcard round of the playoffs. I have the Cowboys are the second-most threatening team to the Eagles in the NFC behind the Niners, so the sooner they're out the better. The Bucs would have a fighting chance of beating the Cowboys with Tom Brady.

Steelers at Panthers (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.): The Panthers, who amazingly can still win the NFC South, would get wrecked by Dallas in the wildcard round.

Draft positioning

The Saints had their bye last weekend and their draft positioning remained steady at fifth overall. A look at the top 18, via Tankathon:

  1. Texans: 1-11-1
  2. Broncos (owned by the Seahawks): 3-10
  3. Bears: 3-10
  4. Rams (owned by the Lions): 4-9
  5. Saints (owned by the Eagles): 4-9
  6. Cardinals: 4-9
  7. Colts: 4-8-1
  8. Raiders: 5-8
  9. Panthers: 5-8
  10. Falcons: 5-8
  11. Jaguars: 5-8
  12. Browns (owned by the Texans): 5-8
  13. Steelers: 5-8
  14. Packers: 5-8

Both the ceiling and the floor of that Saints pick can improve this week. Here are the ideal winners around the rest of the league in terms of draft positioning, in order of importance:

  1. Falcons at Saints (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.): Duh.
  2. Rams at Packers (MNF)
  3. Cardinals at Broncos (4:05 p.m.): If the Cardinals win, the Saints pick floor improves. If the Broncos win, the ceiling improves. In my opinion, high ceiling > higher floor.
  4. Patri*ts at Raiders (Sunday, 4:05 p.m.)
  5. Ravens at Browns (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)
  6. Chiefs at Texans (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)

Irrelevant to the Eagles:

  1. Dolphins at Bills (Saturday, 8:15 p.m.)
  2. Titans at Chargers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m.)

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