The Eagles (9-7) are back in the NFC playoffs for the 2021 NFL season after missing the tournament last year. Philadelphia has posted its fourth playoff berth in five seasons, the first under rookie coach Nick Sirianni.
With a wild card spot behind the NFC East winners Cowboys, the Eagles plan to lay off key players in Week 18, including quarterback Jalen Hurts. The team has its fair share of injuries and more than average COVID-19 concerns ahead of Saturday night’s Week 18 home game against Dallas. With that in mind, the following is a breakdown of the Aguilas planting scenarios:
NFL WEEK 18 PICKINGS:
How the Eagles can secure the No. 6 seed in the NFC
The Eagles are either the current No. 7 seed, or are positioned for the third and final place as a wild card in the conference. They are behind the No. 6 49ers, also 9-7, because they lost to them in Week 2.
Philadelphia, however, secured a playoff spot ahead of San Francisco. That’s because only one NFC team behind both teams, the Saints, who are 8-8 before their Sunday afternoon game against the Falcons, can also claim nine wins. The 49ers will secure their No. 6 spot with a win over the Rams while the Eagles remain at No. 7, unchanged from Week 17.
But the Eagles can get to No. 6 even if they lose to the Cowboys. If the 49ers lose to the Rams and the Saints beat the Falcons, then the Eagles, 49ers and Saints would be 9-8.
Due to the better records in the conference, the Eagles and Saints, who would be 7-5 in the NFC, would overtake the 49ers, who would be just 6-6. The Eagles would then go up to No. 6 to break their tie with the Saints because they defeated them at home, 40-29 in Week 11.
The Eagles could also beat the Cowboys and jump to No. 6 over the losing 49ers, with anything the Saints do irreverent. Should the Eagles, 49ers and Saints lose, the Eagles would still be No. 7.
With little difference between No. 6 and No. 7, that’s why Sirianni and the Eagles don’t want to risk injuring key players. The Eagles can’t move up to No. 5 because the Cardinals (11-5) and Rams (12-4), vying for the NFC West title, have a multi-game cushion in the standings.