With one more win, the NFC’s road to the Super Bowl will come through Philadelphia.
If the Eagles beat the Cowboys on Saturday night, they’re the No. 1 seed. If they lose to Dallas and beat the Saints, it’s theirs. If they lose to the Cowboys and New Orleans, it’ll be white knuckles time, but they would still only need to beat the Giants at home, and they’d be home.
Or, the Cowboys, Vikings and 49ers could each lose one of their final three games, and they’d be the top team in the conference.
In other words, the odds are slim a team other than the Eagles will get that all-important first round bye. If that happens, Nick Sirianni’s crew will need to win just two home postseason games to advance to the Super Bowl, a feat easier said than done.
This week, we asked Eagles fans who they think their toughest opponent would be in the NFC tournament, and here’s what you said:
In terms of total DVOA rankings, the Eagles rank 2nd in the NFL (29.0%), trailing behind only Buffalo (32.6%). The Niners are right behind them in 3rd (26.6%), with the Cowboys in 4th (21.5%). The Vikings, despite their 10-4 record, are 25th (-10.1%). It’s pretty clear Minnesota is not in the same class as the Eagles, 49ers or Cowboys.
By Weighted DVOA, San Francisco is tops in the NFL (36.7%), with the Birds 3rd and Dallas 4th. Offensively, the Eagles rank 2nd, with San Fran 9th and Dallas 15th. The Niners’ strength is on defense, where they are the clear No. 1, followed by the Cowboys at 3 and the Eagles at No. 7.
The 49ers quarterback, third stringer Brock Purdy, is the big wild card in all this. He’s played exceedingly well in relief of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, with a 113.0 passer rating in two straight victories as the starter, but can he keep this up? Christian McCaffery, Deebo Samuel and Kyle Shanahan’s outstanding running game are exceedingly tough to defend, Nick Bosa and the defense are animals, perhaps the only team that has a real shot at slowing down Jalen Hurts’ and the Birds’ offense in the postseason.
Of course, this sentiment could change on Saturday if the Cowboys smoke the Eagles in Dallas on Christmas Eve. With Dak Prescott, a dominant running game with Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, and an opportunistic defense led by Micah Parsons, the Cowboys could easily beat Philadelphia and win there as well. Of course, history tells us Dallas will fold at some point, and they’re struggling with injuries on defense, perhaps the two biggest reasons why fans don’t believe in them.
Regardless, the Eagles will be favored to win no matter who they play in the playoffs, provided they’re at home, and Jalen Hurts is healthy.