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December 25, 2021

Week 16 non-Eagles rooting guide

Here's who Eagles fans should be pulling for in Week 16

Eagles NFL
122421TaysomHill Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports

Saints-Dolphins is an interesting matchup that pits Eagles playoff odds vs. draft positioning.

In past seasons, Philadelphia Eagles fans generally rooted for their own team, and kept an eye on the rest of the NFC, with a focus on the NFC East. They'll still do that in 2021, but there are even more peripheral rooting interests for Birds fans this season because they own 2022 draft picks from other teams.

And so, each week we'll lay out a rooting guide for non-Eagles games on the NFL schedule, and yes, I'm aware that most of the below is obvious. You can also check out the latest Week 16 odds and read all my picks, here.

Let's start this week with the Eagles' playoff hopes.


First, let's update the wildcard race:

NFC wildcard Record Conf record GB 
Rams (5 seed)10-4 7-3 
 49ers (6 seed)8-7 6-5 
Vikings (7 seed) 7-7 5-4 
Eagles 7-7 5-4 - 
Saints 7-7 5-5 
Football Team 6-8 5-4 
Falcons 6-8 3-7 
Panthers 5-9 3-6 
Seahawks 5-9 2-7 
Giants 4-10 3-6 
Bears 4-10 2-7 
Lions 2-11-1 2-7 4.5 

 • To begin, the Eagles were helped on two fronts on Thursday night, when the Titans beat the 49ers:

  1. The 49ers' loss helped the Eagles' playoff chances.
  2. The Titans' win put their "magic number" for winning the AFC South at 1. That means that if the Colts make the playoffs as a wildcard, any potential road to the Super Bowl will almost certainly have to be via three road wins.

The other two teams that matter for the Eagles' playoff hopes are the Vikings and Saints. The Eagles' playoff odds would improve with losses by either team.

It's ideal if the Rams beat the Vikings. That game is clear.

However, there's room for debate on the Monday night matchup between the Saints and Dolphins, where playoff odds and draft positioning collide. (As you're aware, the Eagles own Miami's first-round pick.) 

A Dolphins win would help the Eagles' playoff odds, but a Saints win would end Miami's six-game winning streak, and all but eliminate them from playoff contention.

Out of curiosity, I polled Eagles fans on Twitter on their preference:

My personal feeling is that if the Eagles can't win out, they maybe don't deserve to make the playoffs. Since they hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints, they shouldn't need to worry about what they do the rest of the way. So I say root for the Saints, but your view may vary.

Draft positioning

As you're aware (and as noted above), the Eagles own first round picks from the Dolphins and (now almost certainly) the Colts in the 2022 NFL Draft.

After a win over the Patriots Week 15, the Colts put themselves in excellent position to at least earn a wildcard. Let's look at the AFC wildcard race:

AFC wildcard Record Conf record GB 
Colts (5 seed)8-6 7-3 - 
Chargers (6 seed)8-6 5-4 
Bills (7 seed)8-6 5-5 
Ravens 8-6 5-5 
Steelers 7-6-1 5-4 0.5 
Raiders 7-7 5-4 
Dolphins 7-7 5-5 1 
Browns 7-7 4-6 
Broncos 7-7 3-6 
Jets 3-11 3-7 
Texans 3-11 3-7 
Jaguars 2-12 2-7 

The Eagles obviously want the Colts to lose to the Cardinals.

Otherwise, see all those teams with 7 or 8 wins? The Eagles want all those teams (the Dolphins aside, generally speaking) to win. The obvious, clear-cut rooting interest games:

  1. Chargers at Texans
  2. Steelers at Chiefs
  3. Raiders at Broncos (The Raiders play the Colts Week 17, and can earn a tiebreaker over them with a win.) seems to think that Bengals and Bills wins over the Ravens and Patriots, respectively, are better for decreasing the Colts' playoff hopes, so let's just trust them there.


Football Team at Cowboys: The Cowboys currently hold the 2 seed in the NFC. Should they earn the 1 seed, their chances of winning the Super Bowl will skyrocket. Nobody wants that.

• Browns at Packers: A Browns win is better for keeping the Colts out of the playoffs, but a Packers win is better for keeping the Cowboys out of the 1 seed in the NFC. I think spite wins here. 

Buccaneers at Panthers: Yes, Tom Brady is contemptible, but the Bucs winning another Super Bowl is better than the Cowboys winning one.


Bears at Seahawks: The Giants own the Bears' first-round pick.

The "Who cares?" department

  1. Lions at Falcons
  2. Jaguars at Jets

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