The Eagles could pick No. 7 in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Let that marinate for a second.
It’s not incredibly likely, and they’ll probably land closer to the early teens, but it’s entirely possible that the Eagles could have a Top 10, or even Top 8, draft pick come April.
Pair that with the knowledge that, entering this past September, the Eagles didn’t even have a first-round draft pick before Howie Roseman traded Sam Bradford for the Vikings’ first rounder? Not a bad outcome at all.
Let’s take a closer look at what will influence the Eagles’ first-round selection.
There are six teams in the league who have been so abhorrently bad this year that they’re guaranteed to have a worse record than the Vikings, no matter what happens in the final two weeks of the season.
- Cleveland Browns (0-14)
- San Francisco 49ers (1-13)
- New York Jets (4-10)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12)
- Los Angeles Rams (4-10
- Chicago Bears (3-11)
The Vikings simply can’t be worse than those six teams, no matter how hard Sam Bradford & Co. try. But there are eight teams the Vikings can eclipse in the race to the bottom.
First of all, the Vikings will need to lose their final two games — a road game against the Packers, and a home game against the Bears — for these optimal situations to play out. So keep that in mind.
And then, these eight teams will need to win out.
Let’s take a look at the likelihood of that happening, team by team:
Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1)
Remaining games: @ Seahawks, vs. Rams
The Cardinals have been a confusingly inconsistent team this season. Playing on the road in Seattle is a tall task; they’ve scored just 15 combined points in their last two road games, both losses, but 64 combined points in their last two home games, both wins. The Cardinals probably lose this game, and then beat the woeful Rams, which puts Arizona ahead of the Vikings in the draft order.
Likelihood of winning out: 20%
Carolina Panthers (6-8)
Remaining games: vs. Falcons, @ Buccaneers
After starting 1-5, the Panthers are 5-3 since their bye week. The playoffs are out of the question, but consecutive wins against the Chargers and Washington have Cam Netwon and the defending NFC champions on some semblance of a roll heading into their final two games of the year.
And then they have two divisional games, which are always up in the air, no matter the quality of the teams that season. (Just look at the history between the Rams and the Seahawks!) If the Panthers play anywhere near they were expected to when the season began, they can give both the Falcons and Bucs good runs for their money.
Likelihood of winning out: 45%
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1)
Remaining games: @ Texans, vs. Ravens
The Texans are intentionally starting Tom Savage at quarterback, which means the Bengals will win the first of these two games because TOM FREAKING SAVAGE.
Then comes a season-ending home game against division rival Baltimore. A.J. Green should be back by the final week of the season, which is certainly a plus. And no AFC North team can resist pushing to spoil a rival’s playoff chances, which is exactly what Cincinnati could do by knocking off the Ravens.
Count me as bullish on the Bengals.
Likelihood of winning out: 60%
New Orleans Saints (6-8)
Remaining games: vs. Buccaneers, @ Falcons
Two divisional matchups for the Saints? Love it. The Saints are an incredibly unpredictable team, and against two other teams for whom offense is No. 1, these final two games of New Orleans’ season should be entertaining, at the very least.
The Saints are decidedly worse than both the Bucs and the Falcons, but the likelihood of Drew Brees losing to both teams to close out the year just doesn’t seem to gel for me. He’s on pace to set every passing record ever. The Saints have to win at least one, and if they beat the Bucs, I think they beat the Falcons, too. Spoiling is fun!
Likelihood of winning out: 40%
Buffalo Bills (7-7)
Remaining games: vs. Dolphins, @ Jets
The Bills are weird and inconsistent. Pretty much anything could happen in their final two games of the season, and I wouldn’t be surprised.
The tough one of their final two games will be when they face the Dolphins; luckily for the Bills, they get a warm weather team at home, and likely without Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, who isn’t expected to come back until Week 17 at the very earliest. That should be a win.
So should their season-ending matchup with the Jets, who are willfully starting Bryce Petty at quarterback and just got demolished by the Tannehill-less Dolphins. Which means things look good for the Bills.
Likelihood of winning out: 75%
Indianapolis Colts (7-7)
Remaining games: @ Raiders, vs. Jaguars
The Colts will probably lose to the Raiders, because the Raiders are a substantially more well-rounded team, and then will probably beat the Jaguars, because the Jags are terrible and just fired their head coach. Andrew Luck vs. Derek Carr is always an enticing matchup, however, and the Colts have four wins in their last six games, so you never know!
Likelihood of winning out: 40%
Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)
Remaining games: vs. Giants, vs. Cowboys
After watching the Eagles rattle off five straight losses over the past month-plus, it’s a little hard to imagine the Birds finishing 7-9. But the Giants are the Giants, the Eagles nearly beat them the last time these two teams met, and this could prove a come-down game for New York after a big win over the Lions.
By the time, then, the Eagles face the Cowboys, the division and conference could both be wrapped up for Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott & Co., which means the Eagles could have a clear path to a win in Week 17.
And if the Birds finish 7-9, as do the Vikings, the Eagles’ strength of schedule is substantially stronger, which means Minnesota would slot ahead of the Eagles in the draft order.
Likelihood of winning out: 45%
San Diego Chargers (5-9)
Remaining games: @ Browns, vs. Chiefs
The Chargers get an easy start to winning out against the worst team in the league. They will beat the Browns.
Then they face the Chiefs, who will very much still be fighting for playoff positioning no matter the result of their Week 16 game against the Broncos.
When the Chiefs and Chargers met in Week 1, it took overtime for Kansas City to topple San Diego, and while the Chiefs are decidedly the better team, a high-powered Chargers offense can always take opponents by surprise with one big outing. Plus, divisional game, which means there’s plenty of variance here. Who knows?
Likelihood of winning out: 65%
Sure, it’s probably not all that likely that the Eagles will finish with the No. 7 pick. But it’s possible. And even if they don’t end up at No. 7, a Top 10 or Top 12 pick for the Eagles is very, very doable.