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NFC Playoff Picture: Eagles control their destiny, can clinch berth as soon as Week 17

With some help, Philadelphia can punch their ticket to the postseason next Sunday.

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If the season ended today, the Philadelphia Eagles would be in the playoffs.

Quite the turnaround after a 2-5 start.

Of course, I checked with some sources, and it turns out the season doesn’t end today. There’s still work to be done. For now, here’s a look at the updated NFL playoff picture.

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

DIVISION LEADERS

1 - Green Bay Packers (12-3)
2 - Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
3 - Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
4 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4)

WILD CARD TEAMS

5 - Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
6 - San Francisco 49ers (8-7)
7 - Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)

...

IN THE HUNT

8 - New Orleans Saints (7-7)
9 - Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
10 - Atlanta Falcons (7-8)
11 - Washington Football Team (6-9)

ELIMINATED

12 - Carolina Panthers (5-10)
13 - Chicago Bears (5-10)
14 - Seattle Seahawks (5-10)
15 - New York Giants (4-11)
16 - Detroit Lions (2-12-1)


The Eagles entered Week 16 right on the outside looking in at the No. 8 spot. But with the Birds beating the Giants and the Vikings losing to the Rams, Philly jumped up to the No. 7 seed.

As a result, the Eagles control their destiny over the final two weeks. If they beat Washington on the road in Week 17 and take down Dallas at home in Week 18, they’ll definitely be playing in the postseason.

The Eagles might not even need to win out to make the playoffs, though! They can actually clinch a berth as soon as Week 17 if they get some help. Such a scenario looks like this:

  • Eagles win their Week 17 game: at Washington
  • Vikings lose their Week 17 game: at Packers
  • Saints lose their Week 17 game: vs. Panthers ... OR ... Saints lose their Week 16 game: Dolphins (Week 16 Monday Night Football) AND the San Francisco 49ers beat the Houston Texans in Week 17.

Things don’t always go as expected in the NFL, as we know, but the preceding is hardly a far-fetched scenario.

It’s also worth noting the Eagles have a realistic path to the No. 6 seed instead of settling for the No. 7 seed. The 49ers have a head-to-head tiebreaker over Philly, which is inconvenient. But if the Eagles win their final two games and the 49ers lose their remaining games (vs. Texans, at Rams), they’ll potentially be in the six spot.

The Eagles can even still win the No. 5 seed if they win out and the Cardinals lose out (at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks). If there’s a three-way tie with the Eagles, Cards, and 49ers all at 10-7, Philly has the tiebreaker to put them at the top of that trio.

Again, it’s fun to think about playoff scenarios and there’s reason to feel good about the Eagles’ chances. But nothing is official until it’s official.