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November 26, 2017

What went right and wrong around the NFL for the Eagles on Sunday (and Thursday)

With the Philadelphia Eagles sitting pretty atop the NFC standings at 10-1, it makes sense to re-calibrate their chances of ending up with the No. 1 seed in the playoffs each week, along with taking an early look at ideal playoff matchups.

And so, here's what went right and wrong for the Eagles on Sunday (and Thursday).

What went right

The Cowboys lost to the Chargers: The Cowboys are essentially done, as the Eagles' magic number in the NFC East became two after the Cowboys' embarrassing loss at home on Thanksgiving. It is now down to one after the Birds' win over the Bears. But the Eagles have bigger goals at this point.

The Panthers beat the Jets: The Eagles beat the Panthers in their building at a time when the Birds weren't as good as they are now. If the Eagles were to face Carolina again in the playoffs, I believe that would be an ideal matchup for them.

Additionally, the Panthers are a physical team, so maybe there's some logic in them beating up a potential Eagles opponent while the Eagles rest during the wildcard round, thus making them an ideal playoff participant? Or am I overthinking that one?

The Seahawks beat the 49ers: The Seahawks have a dangerous quarterback in Russell Wilson, but they do not have the scary defense that they have had over the last half decade without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.

With the Falcons (we'll get to them in a second) beginning to surge, if the Hawks can occupy a playoff spot instead of Atlanta, that would be ideal.

The Rams beat the Saints: The Eagles still only have a one-game advantage over the Vikings, but they now have a two-game cushion against the rest of the NFC, which will help solidify at least a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed if the Vikings somehow overtake them for the No. 1 seed. There are now (3) three-loss teams in the NFC, in the Saints, Rams, and Panthers.

What went wrong

The Vikings beat the LionsThe Eagles would've benefited two-fold from a Lions win:

  1. The 8-2 Vikings would fall a game off the Eagles' pace in the NFC, thus increasing the Eagles' odds for the No. 1 in the NFC playoffs.
  2. The Lions are 6-4, but really not that good, so if they were to make the playoffs, they would take up a spot over a more talented team.

Instead, the Vikings were able to keep pace with the Eagles for another week.

The Falcons beat the Buccaneers: Atlanta is now 7-4, and in my view, the second-most dangerous team to the Eagles after the Saints. If I'm the Eagles, the last team I want to face in my first playoff game is the team that had the league MVP a season ago, and almost won the Super Bowl.

The Redskins beat the Giants: At this point, the more games the Giants win, the better, for the purpose of messing up their draft position. The Redskins are irrelevant at this point.

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