September 23, 2018
In past seasons, Philadelphia Eagles fans generally rooted for their own team, and kept an eye on the rest of the NFC East. In 2018, with the Birds being favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, it's perhaps worth keeping tabs on the conference, as opposed to just the division.
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.
• New Orleans at Atlanta: The Saints have looked bad the first two weeks of the season, giving up 48 points to the Bucs Week 1, and then almost being the first team to lose to the Browns in almost two years, at home no less, in Week 2. The Saints have traditionally been slow starters each season, so maybe that's all this is? We'll see. Personally, if I were the Eagles, I'd be more than happy to just see them fade away. Root for the Falcons.
• 49ers at Chiefs: As we noted last week, I view the Niners as a team that can contend for a playoff spot, but wouldn't really be much of a threat if the Eagles had to face them in the playoffs. The more games they win during the regular season, the better.
• Raiders at Dolphins: Last year, the Eagles took advantage of a Dolphins head coach who no longer liked one of his players, when they traded for Jay Ajayi. I think this game is interesting to watch from that same perspective with the Raiders. If Oakland starts out at like 1-7, for example, maybe the Eagles can add a piece from a Raiders team that is selling off good players who don't get along with Jon Gruden.
• Bills at Vikings: This point spread is at 17, so I wouldn't hold my breath for a Vikings loss, but obviously that is the desired outcome.
• Packers at Redskins: This is an interesting one. The Packers' roster isn't very good, but Aaron Rodgers is such a wildcard on that team that you never really want to face him in the playoffs. He isn't at 100 percent at the moment, so perhaps it's better for them to lose enough games early on to keep them out of the playoffs completely. On the other hand, the Redskins are a divisional opponent that looked really good Week 1, but bad Week 2. I think the preferred outcome is a Packers loss, hurting their chances of sticking around in January. I mean, if you can't beat out the Redskins for the division, then you probably aren't going anywhere anyway.
• Bengals at Panthers: I'm beginning to wonder if the Panthers belong in the same bucket as the Niners and Bears, who are both teams, as noted above, that the Eagles would theoretically handle in the playoffs. I'm leaning that way. It's better if the Panthers win this, in my opinion.
• Titans at Jaguars: This is an AFC game, so it has no relevance to the Eagles in terms of playoff seeding, but it is noteworthy that the Eagles play the Titans next week. Is it better to face them coming off a win or a loss? I'm not sure, and won't venture an opinion there. Perhaps the Eagles are just fortunate that the Titans have to face a physical Jags defense on the road in a divisional contest the week before.
• Broncos at Ravens: As we'll note every week, the Eagles own the Ravens' second round pick, so the worse they do, the better.
• Giants at Texans: The Giants aren't a threat to anyone. The best outcome for the Eagles is for the Giants to not have a top 5 pick, and for them to retain the services of Pat Shurmur. The more games they steal, the better.
• Chargers at Rams: The Rams look pretty damn good. Seeing a loss out of them would have to be reassuring that they are not a juggernaut in the making.
• Bears at Cardinals: The Cardinals are awful. They're not going anywhere. But as noted above, the Bears would be an ideal team to face in the playoffs, should they make it there.
• Cowboys at Seahawks: I'm torn here. I do think the Cowboys will win their share of games, though I don't think they're anything close to a playoff team. They'll safely land in the mediocre zone of the draft again. Meanwhile, the Seahawks very much look like they are in a free fall. If they were to land a top 5 pick, that could go a long way in either improving an awful offensive line or replacing one of their departed studs on defense. Root for the Seahawks, for logic reasons, but also because, you know, f*** Dallas.
• Patriots at Lions: You kind of can't lose here. Either the Pats lose in prime time and go to 1-2, or they show Matt Patricia exasperated facial expressions all night. Win-win.
• Steelers at Buccaneers: At 2-0 with a head-to-head advantage over the Eagles, it's clear that the Eagles would be better served with a Tampa loss.
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