The Philadelphia Eagles' 24-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys did more than guarantee them a playoff spot and end Dallas' season. With that win, the Eagles move into the third seed, which is the most advantageous position they could have reasonably been in.
Out of all the playoff teams without a bye week, the Eagles might just have the most favorable path to the Super Bowl.
As the third seed, they will face the sixth-seeded New Orleans Saints. The 11-5 Saints will definitely pose a challenge; they were the fourth-best offense and the fourth-best defense in the league to conclude the regular season.
But the Saints are coming off one of their worst stretches of the season.
|New Orleans Saints Statistics|
|Brees Home Passer Rating||126.3|
|Brees Away Passer Rating||84.8|
In the past five games, the Saints are 2-3. And it must be considered that their 11-5 record is boosted in part because they are an astonishing 8-0 at home. They are only 3-5 on the road, and this game will be in Philadelphia. On the road, Brees has a passer rating of just 84.8. Five out of eight away games, he had a passer rating below 80.
Let's also consider that the Saints are a dome team from a warm climate. Philadelphia is freezing this time of year, giving the Eagles even more of a home-field advantage.
If the Eagles defeat the Saints, they will take on the No. 2 seed Carolina Panthers. But the matchup with the Panthers, despite Carolina being 12-4, is also a winnable game.
Cam Newton is having an excellent season, but he has still not been consistent. The strength of the Panthers is their defense, rather than Newton's ability to carry the team.
|Carolina Panthers Statistics|
|Points Per Game||22.9|
The Panthers have only the 26th-ranked offense and, more notably, the 29th-ranked passing attack, which will help to mitigate the weakness of the Eagles secondary. Newton has had nine games this season with a passer rating below 90. He has thrown fewer than 250 yards 13 times this season and fewer than 200 yards six times.
This is not to say that the Carolina game would be an easy win. The game is ultimately up for grabs. But the Panthers currently average 22.9 points per game. If Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy can get hot, it could be a favorable matchup.
Both the Saints and Panthers games will be difficult, but the Eagles will not need to face the red-hot San Francisco 49ers, or the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers. And if they face the Seahawks, it won't be until the NFC Championship due to seeding.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo
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