December 9, 2023

Eagles clinch playoff birth in Week 17


Photo by Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles took care of business on Sunday and then they got some help.

And now they’re heading to the playoffs.

As unlikely as it looked when the Eagles were sitting with a 2-5 record after seven weeks, they have turned their season around. They have won seven of their last nine, and have a wild card playoff spot clinched with one week remaining in the 2021 regular season.

Coming into Sunday, the Eagles needed three things to happen in order to clinch a playoff berth this week:

1. The Eagles needed to beat Washington. They did, 20-16. ✓.
2. They needed the Carolina Panthers to beat the New Orleans Saints or the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Houston Texans. While the Saints won, so did the the 49ers. ✓.
3. And, finally, the Eagles needed the Green Bay Packers to take down the Minnesota Vikings without their starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. No problem. ✓.

And just like that, the 9-7 Eagles are heading to the playoffs.

Nick Sirianni becomes just the third coach in Eagles history to guide the team to the playoffs in his first season as head coach, joining Chip Kelly (2013) and Ray Rhodes (1995).

Here’s a look at the NFC playoff picture after Week 17:

  1. *#Packers (13-3, 1st NFC North)
  2. #Rams (12-4, 1st NFC West)
  3. *#Buccaneers (12-4, 1st NFC South)
  4. *#Cowboys (11-5, 1st NFC East)
  5. #Cardinals (11-5, 2nd NFC West)

8. Saints (8-8, 2nd NFC South)

* – Clinched division

# – Clinched playoffs

While the Eagles have made the playoffs, their seed is not yet locked in as Deniz Selman explains:

The Eagles have now made the playoffs four times in the last five years. They missed the playoffs in 2020 with a 4-11-1 record under Doug Pederson. Pederson’s team missed the playoffs in his first year in 2016 but made the playoffs the next three years, including winning a Super Bowl in 2017.

The Eagles were 2-5 after seven games this season but have now won seven of their last nine and will enter Week 18 with a 9-7 record and a playoff spot already locked up.

While the playoff field has expanded in recent seasons, the Eagles are still just the ninth team in the NFL since 1990 to make the playoffs after a 2-5 start. Before this season, there had been 151 teams to start off their season with a 2-5 record and just 8 (5.3%) made the playoffs. The last team to do so was Washington last year. They finished with a 7-9 record, winning the NFC East but lost in the Wild Card round.

This year was just the second time in Eagles history they began with a 2-5 record. Back in 1999 they did it in Andy Reid’s first season and finished with a 5-11 record.

The Eagles made the playoffs in a magical way. Hopefully, that magic continues into the postseason.

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