Predicting the Playoff Picture and the Eagles Best Path
It’s week 15, the average teams are dropping dead by the minute and the Eagles seem destined for the playoffs. Feel free to smack the person next to you because you’re dreaming and you can get away with whatever the hell you want! The Eagles could make the playoffs, bitch!
So since I can’t contain my enthusiasm I decided to take a peek at the upcoming schedules for every team in the playoff race in an attempt to predict the teams and seeding.
First, let’s take a look at the schedules and my prediction of record:
*Projected losses in red
|Team||Record||Week 15||Week 16||Week 17||Final projection|
|Seahawks||11-2||@ Giants||vs Cardinals||vs Rams||14-2|
|Saints||10-3||@ Rams||@ Panthers||vs Buccaneers||13-3|
|Eagles||8-5||@ Vikings||vs Bears||@ Cowboys||10-6|
|Lions||7-6||vs Ravens||vs Giants||@ Vikings||10-6|
|49ers||9-4||@ Buccaneers||vs Falcons||@ Cardinals||12-4|
|Panthers||9-4||vs Jets||vs Saints||@ Falcons||11-5|
|Cardinals||8-5||@ Titans||@ Seahawks||vs 49ers||9-7|
|Bears||7-6||@ Browns||@ Eagles||vs Packers||9-7|
|Cowboys||7-6||vs Packers||@ Redskins||vs Eagles||9-7|
|Packers||6-6-1||@ Cowboys||vs Steelers||@ Bears||6-9-1|
Let’s start with the wild card teams “in the hunt” before getting into the playoff picture as it stands.
I debated putting the Packers on this list. Aaron Rodgers has been practicing but isn’t cleared to play yet. If he’s not ready to go this week then I imagine they’ll shut him down for the year after a loss to Dallas. They need to get healthy and hope for the best next year.
Looking at the Bears I love their offense and they have a top-flight duo of receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. However, their defense has fallen a long way since last year (382 ypg allowed and 27.7 points this season) and won’t be able to keep up with the Eagles big-play attack. It’s a game we should win handily and a dagger to the Bears playoff hopes.
The Cardinals are a solid team. I like their direction under Bruce Arians, but this schedule is brutal. The Titans are a very winnable game, but with Seattle looking to lock up home field advantage I’d put money down on a loss (Can I borrow some money, by the way?). I also expect a loss to San Fran in the desert. However, If the fifth seed is guaranteed going into the game then the 49ers could sit their starters and wait for the big time. Arizona would improve to 10-6 but still be behind the Eagles, Panthers, and 49ers in playoff seeding. Their odds are slim.
And finally, the Cowboys (yuck). Thanks to the Bears, the Eagles edged ahead of the Cowboys are are now first in the NFC East. The problem? Since Dallas has a better divisional record the Eagles will not get into the playoffs in the event of a tie. The Cowboys will face two teams that won’t be playing their franchise quarterbacks. It looks like we’re in line for another classic week 17 Eagles/Cowboys square-off! Feel free to punch your neighbor again.
Now for the big dogs.
Seattle has a cake schedule, and after drubbing the Saints at home 34-7 they essentially have home field advantage locked up. Barring any catastrophies, they’ll remain the top seed with games against the Giants, Cardinals, and Rams. As a result, San Francisco, who also has a friendly schedule in the Buccaneers (4-9) and Falcons (3-10), will be relegated to a wild card team.
Their placement however will be determined by what is the surprise battle of the year: The Panthers vs Saints for the NFC South crown. The Panthers won eight straight before losing to the Saints last week, but will have a chance for revenge at home week 16. If the Panthers win the game and take the second seed, the 49ers would become the 6th seed since they lost in New Orleans in week 10. However, I don’t think the Panthers are equipped to do it, so I’m going to leave New Orleans as the second seed.
Then it comes down the Eagles and Lions. In this case, the Eagles have the advantage in tie-breakers since they beat the Lions in such epic fashion at home. If they handle their business like they should, the Eagles would take home the third seed.
That leaves the playoff picture looking like this:
(6) Panthers at (3) Eagles and (5) 49ers at (4) Lions
High Seed at (2) Saints and Low Seed at (1) Seahawks
That’s a favorable situation. There’s no way the Eagles would match-up against an NFC North squad so between the 49ers and the Panthers, I’ll gladly take the Panthers at home here. The Panthers are 4-3 on the road with an average of 17 points a game, whereas at home they’re 5-1 and averaging 27 points. Favor Eagles.
The other good news? San Fran would be a favorite over Detroit and ideally draws a trip to Seattle. Is playing the Saints in the Super Dome ideal? Absolutely not. But given the strength of the NFC it’s unfortunately the best you can ask for.
From there we’ll flip coins and sacrifice Quentin Demps efogees to the football Gods in hopes of winning a Super Bowl. Get your hair samples ready!
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