(Reuters) – Tremendous Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles don’t management their very own destiny heading into the ultimate weekend of the Nationwide Soccer League common season — however at the very least they nonetheless have a combating likelihood of efficiently defending their title.
FILE PHOTO: Dec 23, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive finish Chris Lengthy (56) hits Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) inflicting a fumble through the fourth quarter at Lincoln Monetary Subject. Obligatory Credit score: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports activities
Consecutive victories over high quality opponents — together with Sunday’s last-gasp win over the Houston Texans — have stored alive their hopes of turning into the primary to win consecutive Tremendous Bowls because the New England Patriots within the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
The probabilities are slim with the Eagles rated by analytic web site fivethirtyeight.com as having solely a 28 % likelihood of constructing the postseason.
But progress appeared much more unlikely three weeks in the past after a loss to NFC East rivals Dallas Cowboys was compounded by information that beginning quarterback Carson Wentz had a again stress fracture.
Now, in contrast to among the different mind-numbingly complicated playoff situations, the duty for the Eagles is comparatively easy on Sunday as they battle the Minnesota Vikings for a playoff spot.
The Eagles (8-7) must beat the Washington Redskins (7-8), and depend on the playoff-bound Chicago Bears (11-4) triumphing over the Vikings (8-6-1).
The primary a part of the equation is perhaps the best for the Eagles, even with out Wentz.
Again-up quarterback Nick Foles does, in spite of everything, have a Tremendous Bowl ring, having stuffed in, after which some, for the injured Wentz on the finish of final season.
Philadelphia may welcome again speedy veteran broad receiver Mike Wallace, who has not performed since breaking a fibula within the second week of the season.
In the meantime, there is no such thing as a less complicated equation than the conflict between the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts, each 9-6 within the AFC South.
The winners shall be in, whereas the losers’ season shall be finished.
Within the race to take pleasure in first-round byes, solely the New Orleans Saints (13-2) are thus far assured of one of many 4 coveted spots.
The Saints have clinched the NFC South, whereas the Los Angeles Rams (12-3) are scorching favorites for the second bye within the NFC, needing solely to beat the San Francisco 49ers (4-11) to safe subsequent weekend off.
If the Rams lose, they are going to open the door for the Bears, who would nonetheless must triumph towards the Vikings to money in on a second seed.
Within the AFC, no workforce has clinched a bye, although the New England Patriots (10-5) and Kansas Metropolis Chiefs (11-4) are greatest positioned, with the Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) needing a little bit of assist.
The Chiefs and Chargers are in the identical division (AFC West), which implies just one can earn the bye.
They’re each favorites for his or her respective video games — the Chiefs towards the Oakland Raiders (4-11) and the Chargers towards the Denver Broncos (6-9).
If each win, Kansas Metropolis would win the division courtesy of their higher divisional file.
HOW THE PLAYOFF PICTURE STANDS
CLINCHED FIRST ROUND BYE: New Orleans Saints
CLINCHED PLAYOFF BERTH: Saints, Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans
IN HUNT FOR PLAYOFF BERTH: Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers
Reporting by Andrew Each in Cary, North Carolina; Modifying by Ian Chadband