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NFL Playoff Picture: What the Eagles need to happen after beating the Rams

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Wild card fever, baby!

Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles shocked the world on Sunday Night Football by going into Los Angeles as 13-point underdogs and leaving with a 30-23 win over the Rams. As a result, the Eagles are still very much alive in the NFL playoff picture with two games left in the regular season. Let’s take a look!

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

PLAYOFF TEAMS

1 - New Orleans Saints: 11-2 overall, 8-2 conference

2 - Los Angeles Rams: 11-3 overall, 7-3 conference

3 - Chicago Bears: 10-4 overall, 8-2 conference

4 - Dallas Cowboys: 8-6 overall, 7-3 conference

5 - Seattle Seahawks: 8-6 overall, 7-4 conference

6 - Minnesota Vikings: 7-6-1 overall, 5-4-1 conference

IN THE HUNT

7 - Philadelphia Eagles: 7-7 overall, 5-6 conference

8 - Washington Redskins: 7-7 overall, 6-5 conference

9 - Carolina Panthers: 6-7 overall, 4-5 conference

DEAD

10 - Green Bay Packers: 5-8-1 overall, 3-7-1 conference

11 - Atlanta Falcons: 5-9 overall, 5-5 conference

12 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-9 overall, 4-6 conference

13 - New York Giants: 5-9 overall, 4-7 conference

14 - Detroit Lions: 5-9 overall, 3-7 conference

15 - San Francisco 49ers: 3-10 overall, 1-8 conference

16 - Arizona Cardinals: 3-11 overall, 3-7 conference

...

According to FiveThirtyEight, the Eagles currently have a 37% chance of making the postseason. So, what do the reigning Super Bowl champions need to do now?

Well, I’ll start by noting that the Eagles are still mathematically alive in the NFC East. If the Eagles win their final two games (versus Texans, at Washington) and the Cowboys lose their final two games (versus Buccaneers, at Giants), Philadelphia will be the first team to repeat as division champions since 2004. FiveThirtyEight only gives the Eagles a 5% chance of the winning the NFC East, so it’s still pretty unlikely. But the pipe dream is alive.

The more realistic path for the Eagles is to make the playoffs as a wild card team. Here’s what the Eagles need to make that happen:

  • Eagles win out (versus Texans, at Washington)
  • Vikings lose at least one of two games (at Lions, versus Bears)
  • Panthers lose at least one of three games (versus Saints, versus Falcons, at Saints)

That path suddenly doesn’t look so impossible.

The Texans are 10-4, yes, but they’ve won a lot of close games this year. Houston only ranks 14th overall in DVOA. Washington managed to win today but if the Eagles can’t beat Josh Johnson then they certainly don’t even deserve to be in the playoffs.

As for the Vikings, they’re probably going to beat the Lions. But maybe they’ll lose to the Bears, who already beat them earlier this season. Chicago could have playoff seeding to play for in Week 17.

The Panthers have lost five in a row. It’s hard to imagine them winning out, especially with two games against the Saints on their schedule.

If the Eagles can do all of this, they can make the playoffs as a No. 6 seed. There’s also a path for them to make it as the No. 5 seed, though that requires the Seahawks (versus Chiefs, versus Cardinals) losing out as well.

Making the playoffs as the No. 6 seed means the Eagles would have to win three road playoff games just to MAKE IT to Super Bowl LIII. So, there’s still a lot of work to be done. And we don’t even know exactly what’s going on with the Eagles’ quarterback situation down the stretch.

For now, just enjoy the Eagles being alive in the playoff hunt with two games to go.

And root for the Panthers to lose on Monday Night Football.