The Eagles no-longer control their own fate as far as playing their way at home to the Super Bowl. Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Seahawks could very well cost them home field advantage throughout the playoffs — which could be make or break for a young team in which has shown it struggles playoff atmosphere.
Dipping down to the fourth tie-breaker, the Vikings would be the No. 1 seed if the playoffs started today due to their more difficult schedule. If they do hang on to the top spot, they could literally play at home for an entire month hosting a divisional game, NFC championship and eventually the Super Bowl all in Minnesota — a danuting task for any NFC team to overcome.
The Eagles have lost twice on the road now and have shown to be a little more vunerable away from their friendly confines. What can Philly do to wrestle first place back?
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Well, it starts next week, where the second test of their current three-game road trip kicks off in Los Angeles against the Rams. L.A. is kind of a home away from home for the Birds, who played what amounted to a home atmosphere back in October when they stomped the Chargers. The Rams are much more talented than the Chargers but, like the Eagles, have relied on a second-year quarterback and a weak schedule.
Week 14 is the last game Philly is expected to lose, according to fivethirtyeight.com's prediction's model. A home stretch with games against the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys, with two at home, offer the Eagles a solid stretch to return to form with. Lets assume the model proves true, and the Eagles wind up with a 13-3 record, falling to the Rams but winning their last three.
Here's how the rest of the NFC could play out.
The Vikings are favored in all of their remaining games, the toughest of these is against the Panthers next week. They also have a potentially hairy match up against the Packers on Thursday night — who may have Aaron Rodgers back. They have no-brainer games left against the Bengals and Bears too. Minnestota is in the drivers seat.
New Orleans, Atlanta and Carolina — three NFC South threats to the Eagles — play one another so many times down the stretch it all but assures that Philly and Minnesota are in a head-to-head duel for the No. 1 spot (potentially also including Los Angeles if they beat Philly next weekend) but anything can happen. If Philadelphia can win out, they can put pressure on the Vikings and maybe hang on to grab a No. 1 seed. If they lose one of four, they probably can't catch Minnesota. If they drop more than one game they are at risk of falling into Wild Card Round territory with the NFC South teams and the Seahawks on their heals.
Things could get tight, and complicated as the final four games arrive. Stay tuned.