Eyes on the Wildcard: Week 14 Preview
The Eagles are in the middle of the pack when it comes to battling for a Wildcard spot in the NFC, and despite being on their bye week, there will be plenty at stake for them not just this weekend but throughout the rest of the season. With the tightness of the NFC, it created the perfect opportunity to create a mini-series called Eyes on the Wildcard, where the race for the three extra playoff spots in the NFC will be looked at every single week as the Eagles hope to break into one of those seedings and make a playoff appearance in Nick Sirianni's first season as the Head Coach.
5th seed- LA Rams 8-4
The Rams are currently sitting comfortably in that fifth seed with a two-game advantage over the Football Team and 49ers. However, a lot can change in just a couple of weeks in the NFL. The Rams travel to Arizona on Monday Night Football with the aspirations of all but tying down the fifth seed in the NFC. Or at least guaranteeing a playoff spot, but a loss makes things interesting. The Eagles at 6-7 are just two games back and wins for the likes of Washington, and San Francisco could very well drag them down into the chaos. For now, though, they appear to be safe, although their final five games are as difficult as it gets.
6th seed- Washington Football Team 6-6
The Football Team climbed into the wildcard spots on Sunday night, where they beat the Las Vegas Raiders in a back and forth affair. Their win allowed them to leapfrog the Eagles into the wildcard places, and they currently sit above the 49ers due to a better conference record in the tiebreaker. Heading into Week 14, the Football Team will only face divisional opponents the rest of the way, the same as the Eagles. They start with the hardest task this weekend against the 8-4 Dallas Cowboys. A win would solidify their case to make the playoffs as it would push their divisional record to 2-0. That would give them an advantage over the Eagles when it comes to tiebreakers, considering the Eagles are 0-2 so far against the NFC East. A loss to Dallas would really set up the Week 15 clash for the Eagles.
7th seed- San Francisco 49ers 6-6
The 49ers suffered a frustrating loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week, but they remain in the Wildcard spots. Their wins over the Eagles and Vikings will leave them in good stead for the rest of the way as it could become the deciding tiebreaker if the records were to end up equal. They face the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend as they look to get back on track, but the Bengals will be hoping to make up for their thrashing by the LA Chargers as they have playoff aspirations of their own. Deebo Samuel may return for San Fran, which could not only serve as a big boost against the Bengals but for the final few weeks of the year.
In the Hunt:
Minnesota Vikings 5-7: The Vikings have had a horrendous two weeks as their Wildcard spot disappeared from underneath them. After losing to the 49ers two weeks ago, they lost the tiebreakers there. Something that could be crucial down the stretch. However, the following week, the Vikings embarrassed themselves in typical Vikings fashion as they handed the Detroit Lions their first win of the season on the final play of the game. They host the Pittsburgh Steelers on TNF tonight. Another team with playoff aspirations. A Minnesota win will set the tone and apply pressure to the other teams in the NFC this weekend.
Carolina Panthers 5-7: The quarterback situation in Carolina is becoming quite desperate after the returning Cam Newton was benched in the loss to the Miami Dolphins. With the frustration of a struggling offense, offensive coordinator Joe Brady was fired during the 1pm slate of games last weekend. The Panthers face the Falcons this weekend, meaning one team should be sat at 6-7 unless there is a tie. The Eagles carry the tiebreaker over the Panthers after their win earlier in the season.
Atlanta Falcons 5-7: The Falcons have had a very up and down year in Arthur Smith's first season as Head Coach. The Falcons lost to the Panthers earlier in the season, thus handing Carolina the advantage between the two. A loss here would seriously damage Atlanta's hopes of finishing in a Wildcard space. Two losses to the Panthers, a loss to the Eagles and Washington already leaves them with an uphill task.
New Orleans Saints 5-7: The Saints quarterback situation has seriously derailed their season. With Jameis Winston under centre, New Orleans looked like they were an almost dead cert to reach the playoffs. However, his ACL tear has left them in quarterback purgatory, with Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill failing to win the last five games. The Saints have the easiest matchup out of all the teams against the New York Jets. A win will definitely help their case. The Eagles also own a win over the Saints.
The Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants and Chicago Bears all currently sit on a 4-8 record and will need a lot to work in their favour to even have a glimmer of hope of creeping into those Wildcard places. However, we have seen crazier things happen at the end of an NFL season.