Playoff Push: COVID-19 attacks Eagles’ wildcard opponents going into crucial week
COVID-19 continues to strike around the NFL and is now affecting two teams the Eagles are fighting for a playoff spot with. Earlier this afternoon, it was reported that Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook would be heading to the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Joining Cook are New Orleans Saints quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian.
Current NFC Wildcard Standings:
- 6th: San Francisco 49ers (8-6)
- 7th: Minnesota Vikings (7-7)
Outside the playoffs:
- 8th: Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)
- 9th: New Orleans Saints (7-7)
The Eagles have the easiest remaining schedule of the group and should make the playoffs if they win out against the Giants, Washington, and Dallas. It doesn’t hurt to get some help along the way so if the Eagles drop a game, they won’t fall out of the playoff picture.
The Vikings have the toughest matchup of all three, playing the 10-4 Los Angeles Rams at home on Sunday afternoon. The Rams are dominant across the board, and the Vikings could heavily benefit from a well-balanced attack. Dalvin Cook has been the second-best running back in the league this season when healthy, behind only MVP favorite Jonathan Taylor.
Losing a running back compared to a quarterback isn’t as damaging, but when facing a team like the Rams, Minnesota needs everyone they can get. A Vikings loss and an Eagles win over New York would propel Philadelphia into the wildcard, with the ability to control their destiny.
Even with both teams at 7-7, the Eagles don’t necessarily need a Saints loss. Philadelphia holds the tiebreaker following their victory over New Orleans earlier this season. Without either of their QBs, New Orleans is down to their fourth-string backup, Ian Book. If neither Siemian nor Hill returns in time, the 4th round pick from Notre Dame will make his NFL debut.
Although it’s so late in the week, you can’t count out New Orleans’ quarterbacks just yet. The Saints are scheduled to host the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, giving them an extra day to return. The NFL has also adjusted COVID protocols, requiring just two negative tests 24 hours apart for vaccinated players.
Miami has been on a roll and should already win, but it would make them the overwhelming favorite if both Siemian and Hill are inactive. A Saints loss would send them out of the picture as well, with there being a good chance the Eagles are the playoff favorites by the end of the week.
Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports