As Week 17 approaches for the Philadelphia Eagles, there’s one more goal to achieve before the regular season concludes. At 13-2, Philly sits atop the NFC. They are already guaranteed of a playoff spot, but the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys are on their heels and lurking. One more win would guarantee Philadelphia the NFC East’s crown and the number-one seed in the conference. Getting the top seed is vital, as only one NFC and one AFC team get a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs under the relatively new 14-team structure.
Losses by the Cowboys and Vikings would also seal the deal, but the Birds can’t rely on that happening. They have to take care of their own business. The Eagles have two winnable games remaining. Both are home dates.
The New Orleans Saints visit Lincoln Financial Field on New Year’s Day. The New York Giants are the opponent in the regular-season finale. Philly could be shorthanded, so we’ll all be watching the injury report closely.
The Eagles can clinch against the Saints.
As mentioned, Philadelphia’s next game is on New Year’s Day versus New Orleans. The Saints are among the league’s ten worst teams in terms of overall record (6-9). They’re on a two-game winning streak. So far this season, New Orleans has constructed a 2-5 record on the road, and they average 20.2 points per game.
The Eagles are likely to face Andy Dalton at quarterback. He is completing 66.2% of his passes and has thrown for 2,495 yards, 17 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. The Saints are a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of rushing and passing, but their pass defense is the NFL’s second-best. Only the Eagles have been better.
Philly can win this game, but they must be efficient with the football. It wouldn’t hurt if they generated takeaways of their own as well. The Eagles turned the ball over four times versus Dallas but still moved the football rather well. The Saints’ defense could provide a tougher challenge.
Teams are averaging 21.7 points and 322.4 offensive yards per game versus New Orleans. Therefore, the Eagles would be wise to rely on their running game and pressure Andy Dalton with their pass rush. That could force him into mistakes.
The Eagles should have extra incentive to win this game. This past offseason, vice president/general manager Howie Roseman dealt the 16th and 19th overall selections along with the 194th-overall selection and in return landed five draft choices including a first-round draft choice in 2023 and a 2024 second-round draft choice.
If the Saints lose out, the Eagles could be looking at a top-ten selection come next April. Hopefully, the Eagles won’t overlook an inferior team and they take care of business in this one.
The Eagles’ final chance comes against the Giants.
The Birds’ season wraps with a home game versus the Giants. Their most recent meeting provided a 48-22 road victory on December 11th. Quarterback Jalen Hurts was sensational, as was the Eagles defense, but that game will have no bearing on the next. No one should expect an easy win as the Giants still have their hearts set on earning a Wild Card berth.
The Giants are 8-6-1 and doing their best to hold the Washington Commanders, Green Bay Packers, and Seattle Seahawks at bay for the final two playoff seeds. A win in Week 17 versus the Colts would guarantee New York a playoff berth.
They hope to clinch sooner rather than later and if they do (and the Eagles win versus New Orleans), we could see a game featuring reserves in the regular-season finale. Otherwise, the Giants could enter Week 18’s matchup feeling the pressure of a ‘win-and-in’ scenario.
All of that has been said to say this. The best-case scenario includes an Eagles victory versus the Saints, an opportunity to rest the starters versus the Giants, and a first-round bye in the playoffs. That would also allow Philadelphia more time to get their injured back to one hundred percent, namely Jalen Hurts, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Lane Johnson.
The loss to the Cowboys hurt, especially seeing as how the Eagles were so close to winning, but it didn’t ruin their chances of earning the number one seed. Hopefully, Philadelphia can prevail versus New Orleans. No one wants to see this team enter Week 18 desperate for a win after losing two straight games in Week 17 and Week 18.
Look for a playoff-like environment at Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday. The Eagles return home for the first time in almost a month.