Our scoreboard watching takes on a little extra significance in Week 10 as the Eagles are on a bye and we'll have to look elsewhere for our football fix.
We got some decent results in Week 9, with the Packers, Vikings, and Lions all losing. Tampa Bay almost pulled off an improbable upset in Seattle but fell just short in overtime. It wasn't all good, as Carolina, and worse the Cowboys, won.
With the Eagles having the week off, we can focus all our attention on the pertinent games that affect them in Week 10. Honestly, the 1:00 slate is pretty quiet, with a lot of AFC matchups. The Lions play the Bears, but with both of those teams losing last week, their impact on the playoff picture took a big hit. We could include the Falcons-Saints game, but it looks like New Orleans will end up winning the NFC South (they hold a two-game lead over Carolina) and a Falcons win seems very unlikely anyway, so we'll skip it. Things get more interesting at 4:00, and especially in the prime-time games both Sunday and Monday night. Let's see what we have.
Panthers (5-3) at Packers (7-2), 4:25
The Packers suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of the Chargers in Week 9 while Carolina bounced back from a beat down against the 49ers to beat the Titans and get back on track. Green Bay remains in control of the NFC North, while Carolina appears to be playing for a Wild Card berth unless the Saints collapse.
A loss for either team here would be beneficial for the Eagles. We mentioned in last week's article that due to head-to-head results, the Eagles would prefer Minnesota to win the North and force the Packers into the Wild Card race. A Green Bay loss on Sunday would increase the likelihood of that scenario while also pulling the Packers back towards the Eagles in the standings. On the other hand, with Carolina almost certainly relying on a Wild Card spot, a loss for them would put them in a tie with the Eagles, and the more teams the Birds are tied with or ahead of the better their Wild Card outlook gets, should they need that route to get into the postseason.
We could really dig into a lot of factors and produce a whole write up on which outcome would be better for the Birds, but for now I'll let you look at things like remaining schedules and tiebreakers and decide which outcome you think is best. It's a tough call, and I can understand the arguments for either, but I think I'll be hoping for a Panthers loss here. Either way, this game will produce some kind of positive result for the Eagles.
Rams (5-3) at Steelers (4-4), 4:25
This one is much less complicated: Go Steelers. Pittsburgh suddenly finds itself back in the playoff picture courtesy of three-straight wins while the Rams find themselves pretty much relegated to Wild Card contention as they sit in third place in the NFC West, three games behind division leader San Francisco. A loss drops the Rams into a tie with the Eagles and would go a long way towards keeping the Wild Card viable for the Birds. Let's hope the Steelers stay hot.
Vikings (6-3) at Cowboys (5-3), 8:20
Like the Packers-Panthers game, the Sunday night matchup is a game that will produce some sort of positive impact for the Eagles regardless of how it plays out, but unlike that other game, there is one outcome that is clearly superior.
A Dallas loss drops the Cowboys into a tie with the Eagles atop the division and widens Philadelphia's margin for error a little bit. It would certainly serve to amp up the team and the fan base as a bit of control over their playoff fate would return. You could argue that a Vikings win would produce an added bonus, as it would keep Minnesota right on Green Bay's heels in an attempt to steal the division title and for the Pack into Wild Card contention, where the Eagles hold a head-to-head tiebreaker.
Clearly a Minnesota W is the hope here, but a loss by the Vikings wouldn't be devastating. It would leave the Vikings just a half-game ahead of the Eagles and would turn up the pressure on Minnesota coming down the stretch. Again, the Eagles will get some kind of positive result here, but all eyes in Philadelphia will be on this game to see just how big of a boost the Birds will get.
Seahawks (7-2) at 49ers (8-0), 8:15 Monday
Seattle barely escaped the Buccaneers last week, and a loss there would have drastically altered the outlook. Meanwhile, the 49ers just keep rolling.
The hope here is for a 49ers win. Moving to 9-0 and securing a win over their closest division rival would put them in the driver's seat in the NFC West and would almost completely relegate Seattle to Wild Card contention. A Seahawks loss would pull them back towards the Eagles in the standings, and would put the Eagles in position to further help themselves when they play Seattle in a few weeks.
We always finish with the qualifier that all of this is contingent on the Eagles handling their own business, and while that remains true we can put it aside this week since the Birds are off. We can dedicate all our football energy on watching these key games and hoping for helpful results for the Eagles. It's clear that Week 10 will have an impact on the playoff picture and it will be interesting to see where things stand heading into next week.