Eagles' Rooting Guide for 2023 NFL Draft Implications of Week 18

Joe TanseyJanuary 6, 2023

Eagles' Rooting Guide for 2023 NFL Draft Implications of Week 18

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    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 01: Darius Slay #2 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on January 01, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
    Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

    The games involving eliminated playoff teams in Week 18 are from meaningless for the Philadelphia Eagles.

    They enter the last week of the regular season with the No. 10 pick in the 2023 NFL draft thanks to a trade made with the New Orleans Saints last year.

    The Eagles did not do themselves any favors in Week 17, when their loss to the Saints failed to improve the first of their two first-round picks.

    New Orleans closes the season against the Carolina Panthers, which should receive extra fans from the Philadelphia area on Sunday.

    The Eagles would also love wins for the Atlanta Falcons and Las Vegas Raiders to clear out the teams in front of them in the draft order.

    Atlanta, Carolina and Las Vegas all have six wins and would be level on record with the Saints if they emerge victorious in Week 18.

Panthers over Saints

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    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1: Shi Smith #12 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with Chuba Hubbard #30 after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on January 1, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
    Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

    Philadelphia fans should root first for the New Orleans Saints to lose their regular-season finale to the Carolina Panthers.

    The Saints may be more competitive than usual because they sit in the unusual (for them) spot of having nothing to play for.

    New Orleans was eliminated from postseason contention last week and its first-round pick in the 2023 is headed to Philadelphia.

    That could lead you to believe the Saints have more motivation to win, but the Panthers players will be trying to keep their jobs for next season.

    Carolina faces uncertainty regarding its head coach next year, with Steve Wilks still in interim charge following the sacking of Matt Rhule in October, and Sunday serves as a final chance for players to prove they belong on the roster.

    Even Sam Darnold could fit into that category because the Panthers may chase after a quarterback in the first round come April 27.

    The Eagles have to hope the Panthers are the more motivated squad this weekend, so that they go from one game behind the Saints in the standings to level terms.

Falcons over Buccaneers

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    ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 01: Desmond Ridder #4 of the Atlanta Falcons against the Arizona Cardinals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    An Atlanta Falcons win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seems less ridiculous than it did a week ago.

    Tampa Bay sealed the NFC South title by beating Carolina in Week 17, and it is now locked into the No. 4 seed. The Bucs won't benefit from a win in Atlanta, which could allow them to rest Tom Brady and other important starters this weekend.

    However, the Falcons need to use Sunday as a springboard toward 2023 with Desmond Ridder at quarterback.

    Atlanta is committed to the future with the rookie out of Cincinnati, and it would love to see some progress against a tough defense to close out the season.

    A Falcons win would make the draft order harder to figure out since as many as seven teams could finish with a 7-10 record.

Raiders over Chiefs

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 01: Davante Adams #17 of the Las Vegas Raiders celebrates a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at Allegiant Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Rooting for the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18 seems like a waste of time. They host the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that means far more to Andy Reid's team in the chase for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

    However, a Las Vegas win would widen the pool of seven-win teams and help the Eagles move up a spot or two in the top 10 if the Saints lose.

    Las Vegas is not completely a lost cause, though. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham looked competent in the overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers last week, and Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams can still wreak havoc on the Kansas City defense.

    The Eagles have to hope for the Raiders to relish the spoiler role and pull off an upset win over a divisional rival.

    The more seven-win teams there are after Week 18, the more chance there is that the Eagles will move up the draft order.

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