More Sports:

January 07, 2023

Week 18 non-Eagles rooting guide

Eagles NFL
010723AaronRodgers Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

In their first playoff matchup, the Eagles should hope to face... Aaron Rodgers?

For the third consecutive week, the Philadelphia Eagles will set out to earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC simply by winning their own game (no other help needed), which they failed to do each of the last two weeks against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. This time they'll attempt to seal the deal against a New York Giants team likely to rest starters

Here we'll take a look at the other games around the league that have significance to the Eagles. Ideal winners bolded.

NFC seeding

Again, as noted above, if the Eagles win against the Giants, it's a wrap. If they can't beat the Giants, then their seeding rests in the hands of the Cowboys and 49ers. The Eagles' seeding possibilities:

  1. 1 seed: Eagles win, or Cowboys and 49ers both lose.
  2. 2 seed: Eagles lose, Cowboys lose, 49ers win.
  3. 5 seed: Eagles lose, Cowboys win.

The Eagles, Cowboys, and 49ers all play during the late afternoon window on Sunday. If the Eagles gave up a ten minute TD drive to open the game, and then go three-and-out on their opening possession, you might want to start peeking at the Cowboys' and 49ers' games.

• Cowboys at Commanders: The Commanders are starting rookie fifth-round quarterback Sam Howell. They also have a boatload of players on their injury report:

Expect the guys listed as questionable not named Nate Gerry to sit this game out. The Commanders are "soft tanking," as they should be since their draft slot can rise as high as 10th overall with a loss, and as low as 17th with a win.

Cardinals at 49ers: The Cardinals' season has been over for about a month, and they are starting journeyman David Blough. The Niners will clinch at least the 2 seed with a win.

So, you know, don't expect any help from the Commanders or Cardinals if things don't go well for the Eagles in Philly on Sunday.

NFC wildcard round matchups

Six teams — the Eagles, 49ers, Vikings, Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Giants — have clinched playoff berths in the NFC. They'll be seeded like so, depending on the outcomes of the Week 18 games:

  1. 1 seed: Eagles, 49ers, or Cowboys
  2. 2 seed: 49ers, Vikings, Eagles, or Cowboys
  3. 3 seed: Vikings or 49ers
  4. 4 seed: Buccaneers
  5. 5 seed: Cowboys or Eagles
  6. 6 seed: Giants
  7. 7 seed: ???

There are three teams vying for the 7 seed — the Packers, Lions, and Seahawks. 

  1. The Packers' path is the most straightforward. If they beat the Lions on Sunday Night Football, they're in.
  2. The Seahawks will get in with a win over the Rams, and a Packers loss to the Lions.
  3. The Lions will get in with a win over the Packers, and a Seahawks loss to the Rams.

That's easy enough to digest, right? So of the Packers, Lions, and Seahawks, which is the most ideal team to get in from the Eagles' perspective? In my opinion, it's the Packers.

Assuming the heavily-favored Eagles beat the Giants and the equally heavy-favored 49ers beat the Cardinals, the Eagles will be the 1 seed, the 49ers will be the 2 seed, and the Vikings-Bears outcome would become irrelevant to playoff seeding. So let's go ahead and update the seeding visual if those expected outcomes occur:

  1. 1 seed: Eagles
  2. 2 seed: 49ers
  3. 3 seed: Vikings
  4. 4 seed: Buccaneers
  5. 5 seed: Cowboys
  6. 6 seed: Giants
  7. 7 seed: ???

In the wildcard round, the (4) Buccaneers would host the (5) Cowboys, the (3) Vikings would host the (6) Giants, and the (2) 49ers would host whoever gets in as the 7 seed.

We'll all on the same page that the 49ers are the biggest threat to the Eagles in the NFC playoffs, right? Cool. The Packers are a hot football team at the moment, having won their last four games. They have also beaten the 49ers in two of their last three matchups. If the Packers earn the 7 seed, they have a better chance of knocking off the 49ers than the Lions or Seahawks, in my opinion. Of course, the Eagles would then have to face that same hot Packers team in the divisional round, but it's worth noting that the Packers couldn't do anything to stop the Eagles' offense when the two teams played on Thanksgiving weekend. But the greater gain is getting the Niners out.

Draft positioning

A week ago, the Saints' first-round pick, which of course is owned by the Eagles, was tenth overall. With their win over the Eagles Week 17, it remained at tenth overall. As always, let's fire up the mock draft simulator each week just for fun:

• Pick No. 10: Joey Porter, Jr., CB, Penn State: Light on splash play production, but a height/weight/speed beast with impossible to find traits, like 35" arms. 

• Pick No. 31: Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State: Explosive edge rusher who had an impressive final season at FSU after transferring from Albany.

• Pick No. 63: Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse: Tough runner with a track background, and receiving chops.

• Pick No. 95: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan: Ultra-athletic run-stopping nose tackle.

• Pick No. 196: Tykee Smith, S, Georgia: Safety / slot corner hybrid.

• Pick No. 227: Braeden Daniels, OL, Utah: Double-digit starts at LG, LT, and RT over his career at Utah.

Anyway, getting back on track, a look at the top 18, via Tankathon:

  1. Texans: 2-13-1
  2. Bears: 3-13
  3. Broncos (owned by the Seahawks): 4-12
  4. Cardinals: 4-12
  5. Colts: 4-11-1
  6. Rams (owned by the Lions): 5-11
  7. Falcons: 6-10 (0.470 SOS)
  8. Raiders: 6-10 (0.471 SOS)
  9. Panthers: 6-10 (0.474 SOS)
  10. Saints (owned by the Eagles): 7-9 (0.502 SOS)
  11. Titans: 7-9 (0.504 SOS)
  12. Browns (owned by the Texans): 7-9 (0.520 SOS)
  13. Jets: 7-9 (0.532 SOS)
  14. Commanders: 7-8-1
  15. Steelers: 8-8 (0.526 SOS)
  16. Packers: 8-8 (0.528 SOS)
  17. Lions: 8-8 (0.535 SOS)
  18. Dolphins: Pick forfeited.

In case you're unaware, the tiebreaker for draft positioning after final record is strength of schedule. The better pick goes to the team that had the easier strength of schedule. As you can see above, I included the strength of schedules for the Saints and every team that is one game ahead of them, one game behind them, or currently has the same record.

If the Saints lose on Sunday, they will almost certainly not move up in the draft order, because there is too big of a gap between them and all of the 6-10 teams ahead of them in the draft order, in terms of strength of schedule. In other words, the best the Eagles can realistically hope for is the tenth overall pick.

If the Saints win on Sunday, that pick very likely can't fall any further than 15th overall. And so, here are the teams to root for in terms of draft positioning:

  1. Panthers at Saints (duh)
  2. Titans at Jaguars
  3. Browns at Steelers
  4. Jets at Dolphins
  5. Rams at Seahawks: The Seahawks are not shown in the draft order above, but Seattle would leapfrog the Saints if they lose and the Saints win.
  6. Cowboys at Commanders (as noted already)

Irrelevant to the Eagles:

  1. Chiefs at Raiders
  2. Buccaneers at Falcons
  3. Patri*ts at Bills
  4. Texans at Colts
  5. Ravens at Bengals
  6. Chargers at Broncos

Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | thePhillyVoice

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader