Eagles Playoff Implications: Who should we be rooting for in Week 14?
A win for the Minnesota Vikings was truly the last thing that Eagles fans needed or wanted to see.
Minnesota’s victory over the Steelers on Thursday Night Football gave them the upper hand, and they surpassed the Eagles “in the hunt.” The Vikings currently hold the 8th seed, the team that is knocking on the door of the NFC Wild Card, just behind the Washington Football Team.
This win for the Vikings was in no way beneficial for Philadelphia, but it is not necessarily catastrophic either. The Eagles are (somehow) very much alive in this playoff race, and while they are currently on their bye, there are still four teams that can help catalyst us into the playoffs that we must be rooting for in Week 14.
It will pain you to root for one of these teams, and I sincerely apologize in advance; we need to think about what is best for the Eagles in the long run here.
The Bengals (7-5) are taking on the 49ers (6-6), who are trying to hold onto the 7th, and final, Wild Card spot in the NFC. This game is one-of-two today that is absolutely crucial regarding the Eagle’s playoff chances. The 49ers are currently the only team in the hunt with a tiebreaker advantage over the Birds because of our loss to them back in Week 2.
Plain and simple, the 49ers need to lose as much as possible before this season ends, and that starts with this game against Cincinnati. Their schedule from here on out is split between some tougher matchups (Titans and Rams) and some seemingly “easier” games as well (Falcons and Texans).
It would be just terrible of us to wish a team to be injured … but … with the fact that the Niners are already riddled with injuries, it is now fair to enjoy that the Bengals, who are looking for a bounce-back game, can take advantage of San Francisco’s lack of depth.
Realistically, Atlanta is one loss away from being out of the playoff hunt entirely, so we should in no way, shape, or form feel guilty about rooting for them this weekend. However, I would bet my life on the fact that they will be handed a loss in at least one of their last five games — if we are being honest, it will definitely be more than just one.
A Panthers loss here carries a lot more weight down the stretch. However, the good news is we really do not have to spend that much time stressing over this game either way. The rest of Carolina’s schedule is brutal; they have to take on the Buccaneers twice, the Bills, and the Saints, which makes me feel confident that their record is about to crumble.
The more good news here is that, unlike San Fransico, the Eagles do own the tiebreaker against both the Falcons and the Panthers because of victories back in Week 1 and Week 5. So yes, we should root for Atlanta, but we do not have to break down if Carolina pulls this one out.
New York Jets
This one is a long shot, but it would be great if the New York Jets (3-9) were to surge and beat the New Orleans Saints (5-7) this afternoon.
Let me emphasize here; this is another game that would not be detrimental to our playoff chances if the Saints were victorious. Considering both NFC South rivals in the Panthers and the Falcons are currently ahead of New Orleans, in a similar fashion to Atlanta, one more loss at any point this season, and the Saints are knocked out of the Wild Card picture altogether.
And again, if it really came down to it, the Eagles would still own the tiebreaker over the Saints because of the Week 11 win.
We can, and we should, root for the Jets today because it will make this game a lot more exciting, and the earlier these competing teams can stack up some losses, the less pressure we will have on our backs — that is, assuming the Eagles can keep winning.
Lastly, yes, you read that right. No, I am not crazy (well — not in this sense). And yes, this will be painful.
Remember when I was discussing the Bengals and I mentioned how their game versus the 49ers was one-of-two games today that are actually crucial to our Wild Card dreams moving forward? Well, the Cowboys (8-4) playing Washington (6-6) is the second game that truly matters. Obviously, an NFC East match-up is going to directly affect the Eagles, but there is a lot to unpack here.
Our loss in Week 12 to the Giants basically took away any chance the Birds had to win the NFC East outright. If there is any shot for this team to make it to the postseason (not that we even necessarily deserve it, but it is still fun to think about), it has to be through a Wild Card spot.
The Eagles need a Washington Football Team loss in the same way we need oxygen, and yes, this means rooting for the Dallas Cowboys today.
Unless they completely fall apart, it is almost safe to say that Dallas has locked up the NFC East. At this point, if the Cowboys were to win out the rest of this season, it will not affect us at all, other than the fact that no one actually wants to see that happen.
But, if Washington were to keep surging, then our season would be dead and gone in Week 18, and “The Football Team” could have the opportunity to take their chance in the playoffs.
So yes, it is acceptable, and honestly encouraged, to be pulling for a Cowboys win in this one.
The moral of the story here is that Minnesota, San Francisco, and Washington have to keep losing. Still, for any of this to uphold any kind of significance, the Eagles have to keep winning once returning from this bye week.
The next matchup against Washington will be a huge determining factor, but realistically, every game moving forward is a must-win.