Despite losing two of their last three games, and concerns with Jalen Hurts’ sore shoulder, Philadelphia Eagles fans are feeling pretty good about things as the NFL’s wild card weekend kicks off on Saturday afternoon, although that support had waned significantly in the last few weeks.
Those losses to the Cowboys and Saints put some fear into the hearts of Birds fans, but getting the job done against the Giants’ back-ups was good enough to earn a little trust back, as the Eagles finally captured the No. 1 seed and that all-important first round bye, allowing Jalen Hurts, Lane Thomas, Josh Sweat and others to get healthy for a Super Bowl run.
The Eagles need to win just two home games to get there. That’s it. No matter what travails the team has endured these last few weeks, Eagles fans understand it’s all right there in front of them.
Our latest SB Nation polling showing a solid two-thirds of you are feeling good about things as we head into the postseason. Having your franchise quarterback, all 11 offensive starters, potentially 10 defensive starters as well as homefield advantage goes a long way to engendering confidence. And hey, it’s understandable 3 in 10 are nervous, it’s the playoffs after all! One wrong bounce, one untimely injury, one bad call by a referee can end a magical season in an instant.
It’s the nature of the beast.
But the road to the Super Bowl may never be easier for these Philadelphia Eagles. When you look at the starting QBs for the seven teams in the tournament, one has to admit it’s an underwhelming group.
- Jalen Hurts
- Brock Purdy
- Kirk Cousins
- Tom Brady
- Dak Prescott
- Daniel Jones
- Geno Smith
The NFC’s Wild Card round features Smith’s Seahawks in San Francisco against the Purdy-led 49ers, Jones and the Giants traveling to Minnesota to take on Cousins and the paper tiger Vikings, and in the marquee QB match-up of the NFC’s wild weekend, Prescott and the Cowboys in Tampa against Brady and the Bucs on Monday night.
There are only four teams the Eagles can play next week in the divisional round: Bucs, Cowboys, Giants or Seahawks. As the No. 1 seed, Philadelphia will play the lowest remaining seed after these three games.
If the Seahawks win, they’re in Philly. If the Seahawks lose and the Giants win, it’ll be a rematch with New York in Philadelphia next weekend. If the Hawks and Giants lose and the Cowboys win, it’ll be Hurts vs. Dak in the divisional round. And if all the higher-seeded teams win, the Eagles will get a rematch with last year’s wild card opponent, Tom Brady and the Bucs, coming to Philadelphia as the 4-seed.
Given those potential match-ups, we asked what team you would most want to see in the divisional round, and the answers were not surprising.
It makes sense fans would want to see the Eagles get the lowest seed possible and, on the surface, it makes sense. Seattle went just 9-8 and squeaked in as the 7-seed. But while their 9-8 record is not overly impressive. Smith is having a career year for the Seahawks, 8th in the league in passing yards (4,282, one yard behind Josh Allen), with a 30/11 TD/INT ratio and a passer rating of 100.9 that is 5th-best in the NFL, behind only Hurts, Jimmy Garoppolo, Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa.
In terms of Total DVOA, Seattle ranked 10th, better than Tampa (17th), New York (21st), and Minnesota (27th).
Seattle’s defense is their weak point, averaging 361.7 yards per game allowed this season, 26th in the NFL and the worst of any playoff team other than Minnesota (31st), although the Giants are just ahead of them at 358.2 yards/game. They average 150.2 yards allowed on the ground per game, third worst in the league, so one would imagine Shane Steichen and Nick Sirianni would spend all day running the ball on the Seattle defense.
The Giants would be the other obvious pick, with Daniel Jones getting his first taste of postseason football this year. Brian Daboll has done an amazing job in New York, and Birds fans would undoubtedly be nervous trying to beat them a third time in a single season. The Eagles hammered New York 48-22 in New York in Week 14, and it’s hard to make anything out of their Week 18 22-16 victory. Still, the Birds match up well with New York, it’s hard to imagine Jones coming into Philadelphia in a divisional round and winning his second playoff game in a row, and divisional opponents beat each other three times in a season all the time. Remember the Cowboys in 2009?
Obviously you’d like to avoid Tom Brady in a playoff game if at all possible, although it should be noted the Bucs are awful. They’re 17th in total DVOA (16th in offensive, 13th in defensive) and 25th in weighted DVOA, meaning they are playing some awful football as of late. Only the Chiefs threw for more yards than Brady this year, and yet, he threw just 25 TDs, while the running game was the worst in the NFL. But the defense is decent, and the specter of even a faltering Brady can make one nervous.
As for the Cowboys, Eagles fans have yet to see a Dak vs. Hurts match-up this season, and Dak is the best QB outside of Hurts in the NFC right now. While we would all relish the opportunity to knock the Cowboys out of the playoffs, they would undoubtedly be the toughest out of the four. I sure wouldn’t mind waiting until the NFC Championship Game to have to play them in a rematch of 1980.
If you ask me, I’d rather play the Giants next week, but it’s a close call between them and the Seahawks. No matter what, the Eagles will be favored to beat whoever emerges from Wild Card weekend on Tuesday morning.
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