Eagles' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 14

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 11, 2021

Eagles' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 14

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Philadelphia Eagles fans have little to worry about during the team's Week 14 bye.

    The Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins are all off Sunday, which moves focus away from a look at the 2022 NFL draft picture to the NFC wild-card race. The Eagles are in line to have Indianapolis' and Miami's first-round selections.

    Philadelphia comes into Sunday in ninth place in the NFC, and it can't drop any further because of its head-to-head wins over the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.

    Nick Sirianni's side could finish the weekend on level terms with three other teams if the Washington Football Team and San Francisco 49ers lose.

    The Eagles could be torn between rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and Washington, but a loss by the Football Team would mean more than a stumble out of the NFC East leader.

Cowboys over Washington Football Team

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    The math is simple when it comes to which NFC East rival to root for Sunday.

    The Eagles have two games against the Washington Football Team in Weeks 15 and 17. All of their remaining contests are within the division.

    Philadelphia should want Washington to drop down to 6-7 alongside it so that it has the chance to bury Ron Rivera's team in the wild-card race next time out.

    A Washington loss would also drop the team's NFC East record to 1-1, which is what the Eagles need after suffering losses to the Cowboys and New York Giants. Divisional record is the first tiebreaker if the teams split their two contests and finish on the same record.

    Dallas is 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles in the NFC East, and although strange things can happen in the division, it seems unlikely that Philadelphia chases down the Cowboys.

    In that case, the Eagles would prefer if Dallas runs away with the NFC East so they can go head-to-head with Washington for a wild-card spot.

Bengals over 49ers

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The more teams at 6-7 entering Week 15, the better.

    The Eagles would love if the 49ers went on the road and lost in Cincinnati to potentially put the four top contenders for the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds on level terms.

    The 49ers fell back into the wild-card mess last time out with a road loss to the Seattle Seahawks. That result followed a three-game winning streak that got them back into the postseason mix.

    Philadelphia needs San Francisco to lose as much as possible in December and January because the 49ers are the only team in the wild-card race with a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Eagles.

    The ugly 17-11 victory earned by Kyle Shanahan's squad in Week 2 might end up being the difference-maker in the wild-card race.

    San Francisco still has to go on the road to face the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams, so there is a chance the 49ers finish 2-3, which opens up the possibility for the Eagles to leapfrog them.

Jets over Saints

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The trio of 5-7 NFC South franchises do not mean much to the Eagles because of the head-to-head tiebreakers earned throughout the season.

    The Falcons and the Panthers play each other in Week 14, but they may not matter in the wild-card race in a few weeks because of their brutal schedules.

    Atlanta visits Carolina, San Francisco and the Buffalo Bills in three of the next four weeks, and the Panthers still have to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice.

    The New Orleans Saints have a decent schedule left, with the Miami Dolphins and Carolina visiting in Weeks 16 and 17, so there is a small chance it goes into Week 18 level with the Eagles.

    With that in mind, the Eagles should root for the New York Jets to bounce back from the loss to them to clear out a potential threat from the Saints.

    A New York win might seem unlikely on paper, but if it defends against Taysom Hill well, it could slow down the New Orleans offense and drop the Saints to 5-8.