The Philadelphia Eagles suffered a heartbreaking defeat against Seattle on Sunday night. Their playoff chances remain unaffected, but the race for the #1 seed is closer than ever. Here’s a recap of what went right and wrong for the Eagles in week 13.
The Vikings continue to be the NFL’s underdog darling team. A Case Keenum led offense was able to overthrow a resurgent Atlanta Offense. What stood out here was Xavier Rhodes and his climb up the cornerback pecking order. While Jones was open and missed on several occasions, Rhodes shows no fear in lining up against one of the best in the league.
The Vikings now face a stumbling Carolina team and a Bengals outfit who define inconsistency. Carolina is coming off of a tough loss to the Saints and the idea of Everson Griffen and his 12 sack season coming to town won’t be the most appealing thought. Minnesota needs a win on the road next week. They now tie the Eagles for the #1 seed and would win the majority of tie-breaker situations. They now need to firm their grasp on the crown with a big win over the Panthers.
This needs no explanation. The Eagles dropped their first game since week 2 on the road against a Seahawks team that punished minor errors other less talented teams were unable to. Penalties and inconsistencies throughout ruled the game as the Eagles showed shades of conservativeness, playing to the reputation of Pete Carroll and his ruthless home record.
The Eagles don’t have long to pick themselves up. A loss to the Rams would see them climb to the same record and of course would win in a head-to-head tiebreaker scenario. The Birds had the wind knocked out of their sales against Seattle but if they drop another game next week and Dallas win, that week 17 game is going to suddenly carry much more weight.
Defeating the Rams won’t be easy, but the good news is that the team face the now Ben McAdoo’less New York Giants just one week later. The team is shrouded in uncertainty, paving the landscape for a potential momentum shifting win, just in time for the Eagles to ignite one last push to the finish line.
It’s hard not to be impressed with the Rams this season. Winners in six of their last 8, the Rams ran rampant over the Blaine Gabbert led Cardinals and their special teams unit took center stage as Hekker shook off any rust. Surprisingly, without Robert Woods, the Rams converted on only three of 11 third downs. This bodes well for an Eagles defense that has been absolutely dominant on third down all season long.
The Rams face a vindicating fortnight. The #2 seed Eagles one week, and a clash with the Seahawks who just ripped the NFC East crowning ceremony from the Birds for one more week. The Rams are in a tight must-win spot if they are to remain in the race for the top overall seeding and that all important bye-week.
New Orleans Saints:
The Saints are coming off of a huge win over Carolina. Both shootouts between Cam and Brees have ended in favor of the black and gold this season and now the Saints face a crucial matchup against the Falcons before trying to push through the New York Jets brick wall. Josh McCown has proved himself as competent and the Falcons offense is finally beginning to click.
Theoretically, the stunning Saints backfield is primed for another pair of wins and an ability to convert both matchups into w’s would send them careering into a race for the one seed.
The Seahawks just dethroned Philadelphia. One elite defense down, two more to go. The Seahawks now face ‘Sacksonville’ and the L.A Rams back-to-back. It’s a tough stretch, but one where Championship teams are able to separate themselves. A win over the Rams and their win over Philly at the weekend would be enough to move to 10 wins. If the Rams fall to the Eagles, that’s the best hope Seattle have of climbing further up the rankings, regaining that momentum back at CenturyLink field later on.
The Seahawks aren’t perfect, but the sheer will and determination of their defense partnered with the Russell Wilson show is enough to be a problem for a team of any caliber. Never overlook Seattle.
The season isn’t yet over for the Panthers, but their playoff hopes are beginning to rescind. New Orleans swept the divisional series and the Panthers now play host to one of the toughest defenses in the NFL and then move on to Brett Hundley and the Packers. A slip up in either of these games could likely see the end of their divisional bid and the beginning of a wildcard race…and that’s where the last team on this list comes in.
A loss to the Vikings may not be the dagger in the heart that many are making it out to be. Julio Jones and the Falcons offense are still rekindling their 2016 flame and now face a suspect New Orleans secondary with injuries striking through the heart of the corps, and then face a Tampa Bay team that simply defines unpolished. The return of James Winston helped, but it wasn’t enough as the Bucs continued to get in their own way. If Matt Ryan can rally his team to a surprise win over the Saints and then defeat the Bucs, the Panthers wildcard race takes another step back.
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports