The San Francisco 49ers-Philadelphia Eagles game was supposed to determine who hosted an NFC championship game rematch. And it still might.
Or, it might not mean much at all in the playoff picture.
Week 12 was good for the Eagles and bad for hyping up the NFL’s potential game of the year. The Detroit Lions lost on Thanksgiving. Then the Eagles pulled out an overtime win over the Buffalo Bills. That gave the 10-1 Eagles a two-game lead over the rest of the NFC, including the 49ers.
Even if the 49ers win Sunday, they’d need a lot to go right to beat out the Eagles for the No. 1 seed.
The 49ers have a tougher schedule the rest of the way. According to Tankathon, they have the 14th toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, which includes a game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Eagles are down further with the 24th toughest remaining schedule.
Practically speaking, the 49ers (who seem to be a near lock to win the NFC West, win or lose on Sunday) probably need to win their final six games, including Sunday at Philadelphia, to have a shot at the No. 1 seed. That’s not an easy ask for any NFL team. And even if they win out to go 14-3, they’d still need the Eagles to lose once against a friendly schedule. Maybe the Dallas Cowboys can handle that business in Week 14. But that’s no sure thing.
If the Eagles win Sunday, the 49ers will be all but eliminated from the race for the No. 1 seed and everyone else will have a really tough time catching the Eagles. If the 49ers win the door stays open, but they’d still need to be one game better than the Eagles over the last five games. Hoping a Philadelphia team that has gone 24-4 since the start of the 2022 regular season loses at least twice in its next six games isn’t fun, even if the Eagles are pretty lucky for a 10-1 team.
Sunday is a big game between perhaps the two best teams in football. And it might not affect the playoff bracket as much as we’d like to think.
Here are the Week 13 games that will have the biggest impact on the playoff picture:
The Seahawks might be in trouble. They have games remaining against the Cowboys, Eagles, 49ers and Steelers. Two losses to the Rams are a big reason they’re just 6-5. They don’t have much of a cushion. They’re going to need to pull off an upset or two and also not lose any of their easier remaining games. The Cowboys’ job is to win here and then hope the Eagles lose on Sunday. Then Dallas’ Week 14 game against Philadelphia becomes very interesting.
The playoff odds will swing the most on the result of this game. The Broncos and Texans are both 6-5 and due to the head-to-head tiebreaker, one of these teams will be in bad shape with a loss. And the winner will have a really great story continue on, either the Broncos rallying from a 1-5 start or the Texans being in the playoff hunt with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. Who thought this would be such a huge game in the playoff picture?
The Colts are the one team that might shock everyone if they make the playoffs. And the path is fairly clear. The Colts play a favorable schedule the rest of the way and could get on a roll. They’re 6-5. Rookie Colts coach Shane Stichen has done a heck of a job. But they can’t afford to drop winnable games. A game against the Titans, even on the road, has to be a win for them.
The Rams are the team lingering in the playoff race. They looked finished at 3-6 but the rest of the NFC’s middle class is struggling and the Rams won two in a row to get back in the race. With a win on Sunday and big underdogs like the Saints, Seahawks and Packers losing as expected, we’ll be talking a lot about the Rams early next week. On the other side, the Browns are in good shape now but with their quarterback issues, a long losing streak isn’t out of the question.
When the Packers beat the Lions on Thanksgiving, it was huge for their playoff chances. Any unexpected win like that will be. A win over the Chiefs would be a great parlay for their playoff odds. The Packers have the third-weakest schedule remaining and that’s with the Chiefs on the schedule. The Packers have won three of four and are back to 5-6. That doesn’t sound great but the back end of the NFC wild-card race isn’t very good. If Green Bay pulls another upset Sunday night, the Packers are probably going to the playoffs. They are in good shape to make the postseason even if they lose to the Chiefs. Don’t let that possibility sneak up on you.