There was a good reason why the Philadelphia Eagles rested their starters against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 18. Quite simply, the game’s outcome didn’t have major implications for Philly’s standing in the NFC playoff picture.
With that said, the result of Saturday night’s game DID narrow down the Eagles’ postseason scenarios to five possible outcomes. Here’s a look at who the Eagles will play in the wild card round depending on the results of Sunday’s games:
Updated NFC playoff scenarios from just an #Eagles perspective, updated after Saturday night's result. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/fkFKs0M5EH— Deniz Selman (@denizselman33) January 9, 2022
There’s a case to be made the Eagles should be rooting both the Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons to win. With Matthew Stafford struggling and Sean McVay having a track record of turtling in big moments, the Rams might be the most ideal matchup. Then again, the Rams do have some legit star power with Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey.
The Arizona Cardinals have looked vulnerable in the second half of the regular season. But facing them would require an unlikely Carolina Panthers upset over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Same deal if you’re hoping for the Eagles to play the Cowboys for a third time this season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still the Eagles’ most likely first round opponent. Given Jonathan Gannon’s struggles against the league’s better quarterbacks (Tom Brady included), that could be a tough one. But it would be interesting to see if a rematch between these two teams would go differently than it did when the Birds hosted the Bucs on Thursday Night Football in mid-October.
We’ll know who the Eagles will play for sure later today.
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To further illustrate the meaningless of Saturday’s game, here were the Eagles’ scenarios if they beat Dallas, which they didn’t (via Deniz Selman once again):
The biggest difference is that the Eagles would’ve eliminated the scenario where they play Dallas in the wild card round. If one believes the Rams are truly the ideal opponent for Philly, the Eagles’ loss to the Cowboys actually helped make that outcome more achievable.