Eagles' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 16

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 25, 2021

Eagles' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 16

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles received their first bit of good news from Week 16 in the NFC wild-card race on Thursday night. 

    The loss suffered by the San Francisco 49ers pulled them down to 8-7. The Eagles can reach that record with a win over the New York Giants on Sunday.

    San Francisco owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Philadelphia, but the 49ers' margin for error is now smaller than it was before Thursday. 

    Jalen Hurts and Co. should hope for the Minnesota Vikings to suffer the same fate against the Los Angeles Rams to potentially finish the weekend in a playoff position. 

    The Eagles could use losses by the teams beneath them in the standings as well to ensure they do not fall too far if the worst-case scenario appears in Week 16, like it did in Week 12 against the Giants. 

Rams over Vikings

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    Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press

    Philadelphia fans should be rooting for the Eagles to beat the Giants and for the Los Angeles Rams to defeat the Minnesota Vikings. 

    A Rams victory at U.S. Bank Stadium does two things for the NFC wild-card race. It would first ensure that the second-place team in the NFC West will be the No. 5 seed barring a total collapse. 

    The second outcome is more important to Philadelphia's postseason fate. A Vikings loss combined with an Eagles win puts the NFC East side into the No. 7 seed. 

    The Eagles would have a one-game edge in the win column and in the conference record tiebreaker going into Week 17 if that happens. 

    Minnesota will be without Dalvin Cook due to a positive COVID-19 test and Adam Thielen is listed as questionable for a potential return from his high ankle sprain. 

    The Vikings need as much help as they can get against one of the NFC's toughest defenses. Even if the Vikings win on Sunday, they are not out of the clear since they play the Green Bay Packers in Week 17.

    The Eagles need to win their next two contests against the Giants and Washington Football Team and receive help from Los Angeles this week or Green Bay next week to feel safe about their position going into Week 18. 

Cowboys over Washington

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    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

    It is hard for Eagles fans to root for the Dallas Cowboys in any circumstance, but this is a worthy cause. 

    A Dallas win over the Washington Football Team combined with an Eagles victory would place Ron Rivera's side two games back of the final wild-card spot. 

    That situation would provide some cushion for the Eagles in case they split their regular-season series with the Football Team next week. 

    A Dallas victory also puts in play the potential for a meaningless Week 18 for the Cowboys. If the Cowboys beat Washington and then defeat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17, they could be safe as the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

    Dallas might not catch the Packers for the No. 1 seed and it may be motivated to rest players in Week 18 against the Eagles. 

    The rest discussion becomes more interesting if the Cowboys beat Arizona and Tampa Bay slips up at some point because they could face the Eagles in two straight weeks. 

    Dallas could also rest players to avoid playing its NFC East rival for a third time this season in favor of a better matchup that would come along with an Eagles Week 18 win.

    There is still plenty to figure out before then, but the Eagles need Dallas to keep winning to heighten chances of Week 18 meaning more to them than the Cowboys. 

Dolphins over Saints

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    The Eagles will not have to worry about their head-to-head tiebreaker over the New Orleans Saints if the NFC South side loses on Monday night to the Miami Dolphins

    New Orleans has Ian Book and Blake Bortles on its active roster at quarterback with Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian out. 

    The Saints are at a significant disadvantage against the Dolphins on offense, but they could neutralize the contest with their home-field advantage and defense that just shut out the Buccaneers. 

    New Orleans' defense will be the reason it sticks around in the wild-card race until Week 18, but that is not what the Eagles want to see. 

    Philadelphia should be rooting for New Orleans to lose on Monday in its most vulnerable form since it finishes with the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons

    A Saints loss would drop them one game back of the Eagles, if they beat the Giants, and it would give Nick Sirianni's team a little more cushion in the wild-card race in case it loses to Washington or Dallas.