December 23, 2018
If the 2018 NFL regular season ended today, the Philadelphia Eagles would be on the outside of the playoffs looking in. However, should they win their next two games over the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins, they still have a pretty good chance at making the dance.
Let's take a look at who you should be rooting for in the non-Eagles games, with the ideal winners in bold:
• Vikings at Lions: The 7-6-1 Vikings are a half-game ahead of the Eagles for the sixth wildcard spot. If the Eagles win both of their remaining games, they would need the Vikings to either lose on Sunday in Detroit, or next Sunday at home against the Bears.
• Bears at 49ers: In the event the Vikings beat the Lions, the Eagles could need the 10-4 Bears to beat the Vikings Week 17. What the Bears do this Sunday is worth watching. If they win in San Francisco, they will still have a chance to overtake the 11-3 Rams for the No. 2 seed, and thus a first round bye. If the Bears lose and the Rams win, the Bears will be locked into either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, which are essentially the same thing. With very little to play for Week 17 in that scenario, there's a good chance they'd just rest their starters, making it that much easier for the Vikings to win.
• Rams at Cardinals: In the event the Bears lose, the Rams would clinch a first round bye over the Bears win a win.
• Buccaneers at Cowboys: Of course, overtaking the Vikings isn't the Eagles' sole path to the playoffs. The Cowboys are still "only" a game ahead of the Birds, though they hold the head-to-head advantage on the strength of their season sweep over Philly this year. The Eagles can still win the NFC East if they win their remaining two games and the Cowboys lose both of theirs.
• Chiefs at Seahawks: The Seahawks are another team that "only" has a one-game lead over the Eagles. Should the Eagles and Seahawks finish with the same record, the Seahawks would win that tie-breaker on the strength of a better conference record. If the Eagles win their remaining two games and the Seahakws lose theirs, the Eagles would be in.
• Ravens at Chargers: The Eagles own the Ravens' second-round pick in 2019, so it would be advantageous to the Eagles for the Ravens to miss the playoffs. If the season ended today, the 8-6 Ravens would be in as the No. 6 seed on tie-breakers over the 8-6 Colts and Titans. According to FiveThirtyEight.com, if the Ravens win this game, they have an 84 percent chance of making the playoffs. If they lose, 18 percent.
Update: The Ravens won.
• Redskins at Titans: If the Ravens lose in L.A. to the Chargers, that would open the door for the Titans to get in as a wildcard. Also, to note, technically, the Redskins are still in the playoff hunt for a wildcard, but with the Eagles' playing them Week 17, the Birds can eliminate them on their own at that time. The Eagles don't need the Redskins to lose this Sunday, but it's still better if the Titans win, for draft pick purposes.
Update: The Titans won.
• Giants at Colts: As already noted, it's better if the Colts get into the playoffs than if the Ravens do.
• Steelers at Saints: The Steelers are only a half-game ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North. Should the Ravens win the division, they would get a home game in the first round of the playoffs, thus improving their odds of advancing, thus further worsening the Eagles second-round pick.
That's a lot to keep in mind for positioning on a stinkin' second round pick.
If the Eagles lose on Sunday to the Texans and the Vikings win, the Eagles will be eliminated. Once you've punted your cat and irrevocably ruined relationships with loved ones because you've harshly screamed at them, you'll eventually calm down and remember that the Eagles can still at least improve their draft position. In that event, you should be rooting for the teams in bold below, as wins by those teams would give the Eagles the greatest chance of moving up in the draft order: