Let’s just assume that the oddsmakers have it correct. Let’s assume that the Philadelphia Eagles hold serve as three-point favorites over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Let's assume they win their Wild Card game and make it to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Some would say that’s a stretch, but let’s assume they get it done. Who might they play? Two other NFC Wild Card games will be played on Sunday. Three potential Eagles opponents are on deck and in action.
The other Wild Card games featuring NFC teams seemingly have more juice than the coming Eagles game.
Alright, it's go time. Let's talk about matchups.
Detroit Lions vs. the Los Angeles Rams
The Eagles would play the winner of this game if the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys in their game. If the Lions win this one, the Eagles travel to Detroit. If the Rams come out on top, they travel to Philadelphia.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and Lions signal-caller Jared Goff share one of the headlines in this one. Both face their former team. Who will eliminate their former team? Shall we call this Goff's revenge game? He led L.A. to a Super Bowl (and lost) only to watch the Rams (and Stafford) eventually win one without him.
Prediction: Rams +3
The Rams have been playing phenomenally in the second half of this season. They field the NFC Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Month in December, defensive tackle Kobie Turner, and wide receiver Puka Nacua (he’s also 2nd team All-Pro).
It feels like their offense has been firing on all cylinders. They were able to rest their starters in Week 18. For an old guy like Matthew Stafford, that rest was probably appreciated and it could lead to a nice showing on Sunday.
The Lions have been great on offense too, but unfortunately their rookie tight end and second-best pass catcher, Sam LaPorta went down with a knee injury in Week 18. He’s currently questionable to play for the first playoff game, and even if he does, he won’t be 100%. That will probably show its ugly face because Goff LOVES throwing the ball to him.
We know everything else about that offense. Goff’s an indoor cat, and the Lions are playing indoors. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs is a bonafide star. All-Pro wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has continued his dominant career. They’re just an all-around great offense.
Both of these defenses have been very mediocre, but the Lions’ defense is getting better with C.J. Gardner-Johnson being activated off the injured reserve. Unfortunately for Detroit, one player isn't enough to stop a high-powered and peaking Rams offense consistently. This one might be a shoot-out.
One thing to worry about is the Rams’ special teams. They have been terrible. They have the lowest special teams DVOA from any team in the NFL this season, and they’re in the bottom 10 in that statistic of all-time.
That will end up burning the Rams at some point in the playoffs, but not this game. The Rams will win this one outright.
Dallas Cowboys vs. the Green Bay Packers
Given the Packers' 7th seed, there is no way that the Eagles can play them. If the Cowboys win and the Rams win, the Eagles will head to Dallas in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
This is the Mike McCarthy Bowl. He spent 13 years with the Packers from 2006 until 2018 when he was fired mid-season. Since he’s become the Cowboys’ head coach, he’s only crossed paths with the Packers one time. That was in Week 10 of 2022 where Green Bay beat Dallas 31-28. This time, the game has stakes.
Can we call this McCarthy's revenge game? Or, might we call this a revenge game for the Packers because McCarthy only brought the team to, and won, one Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback?
Prediction: Packers +7
Is Jordan Love good? Jordan Love might be good, despite almost everyone not wanting him to be. It’s not fair that the Packers have had a successful formula for trading for/drafting, incubating, and producing good quarterbacks for over 30 years.
Are the Cowboys good? Unfortunately, yes. They haven’t been to the NFC Championship Game since the 1995 season though. Things are really shaping up for them to end that truly pathetic streak of postseason failure.
The Cowboys are going to win this game, but it’ll be close. Jordan Love has been carving up defenses lately, and this will be a good stepping stone for his future. That’s just not going to be enough to keep up with the Cowboys’ offense.
Dak Prescott has been seemingly automatic for most of this season. If you wanted to argue that he and CeeDee Lamb had a mind link similar to that of the Jaeger pilots in Pacific Rim, it wouldn’t be the craziest thing. They’ve been crushing and it’s not fun to see at all.
That’s pretty much it. No one really wants to read about how the Cowboys are going to win in the postseason, so we’ll just stop with the unfortunate truth that they’ll make it to the Divisional Round of the 2024 playoffs.