Let it be known I can guarantee this to you. I am so confident in the Birds, I am willing to make out with a Fathead of Tony Romo WITH VIDEO EVIDENCE, if I’m wrong (which I won’t be).
Before I dish out my five reasons, some exposition for you!
If the playoffs were to begin today, right before this Monday Night showdown with the Panthers, this is what the NFC Playoff picture would be like:
#1 Arizona Cardinals (8-1)
#2 Detroit Lions (7-2)
#3 Philadelphia Eagles (6-2)
#4 New Orleans Saints (4-5)
#5 Dallas Cowboys (7-3)
#6 Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
What a weird world, huh? Ten years ago the Cards and Lions were the worst teams in football, along with the Browns. (Oh look they lead their division too.) Now they are atop the NFC food chain, ready to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.
If the seedings stayed the same, which they most certainly won’t, the Eagles would be pitted against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks in the Wildcard Round.
Luckily, according to my research, Mark Sanchez will be promptly eating hot dogs and Snapchatting his bros on Wildcard weekend from his bidet (or something on the lines of that).
Now that you have that image in your mind, on with the list!
1. IF CARSON PALMER’S SEASON IS OVER, THE CARDINALS SEASON IS OVER
After signing a big three year-50 million dollar contract extension on Friday, on Sunday Palmer went down with an injured ACL. It seems to be torn. If so, his season is finished. Nothing is official yet, but according to this quote by Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians, you might as well put him on IR,
“We can win the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton. There is no doubt in my mind.”
1a. IF CARSON PALMER'S SEASON IS NOT OVER, THE CARDINALS SEASON IS DOOMED
Tell me an example of when this guy has impressed you. Tell me an instance where he led his team to a season-changing victory. Tell me the last time he won a playoff game.
Carson Palmer does not have a playoff win in his professional career.
Yes, he technically had the comeback win against the Eagles earlier this season, but what does that mean in the grand scheme of things? The 34 year old, first overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft has never won a playoff game. Granted neither did JaMarcus Russell, but for a guy still in the league as a starter after all these years, that’s astounding.
Palmer has had only two playoff starts in his career. Both with Cincinnati. Both at home. Both losses.
You can’t blame him too much for the first loss, as a Kimo von Oelhoffen (former Eagle) tackle tore his ACL on his first pass in a 31-17 defeat to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Steelers.
His most “recent” playoff game was in 2010. Palmer threw a bland 18/36 146 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception in a 24-14 loss to . . . Mark Sanchez and the Jets. Sanchez was an efficient 12/15 for 182 yards, and 1 td in the win.
When it comes down to it, the Cardinals aren’t a threat to the Eagles. This is not 2009, Kurt Warner is hanging out with Matthew Berry, and Kevin Curtis is not going out to drop wheel routes any time soon.
Arizona should slip from the top spot unless the messiah for the Cardinals is Drew Stanton, a former Lion.
2. MATT STAFFORD FUDGES HIS HUGGIES IN DECEMBER
This guy is the opposite of clutch. The Lions are looking great now, but just wait till the calendar says the dreaded “D” month, then Matt Stafford implodes and plays like Geno Smith.
Stafford has a putrid 3-11 career record in December. Actually, he hasn’t won a game in December since 2011. Honestly, his November record is not that better at 6-12.
Looking at their remaining schedule, it’s hard to find Detroit’s winning streak continuing for long. They play at Arizona and at New England, before hosting the Bears on Thanksgiving. They have a home game against the Bucs before the Lions cap their season with their three divisional opponents, including road contests in Chicago and in Green Bay.
The Lions currently have 7 wins, it’s hard to imagine they get more than 10.
3. THE NFC SOUTH IS HORRIBLE
Maybe it’s something in the water down south, but what’s going on with these teams?
The Saints were a sexy preseason pick for a Super Bowl run. It just seems like something is not right with Drew Brees. Fantasy owners can agree with me, in that he’s playing very average this year.
Cam Newton lost all his toys in the offseason. He got a shiny brand new one in Kelvin Benjamin, but that’s all he has. The hopes for Newton to emerge as a top ten QB this year are simply just hopes.
We can skip the Bucs and that train wreck, and end with Matt Ryan and the Falcons. They have they play-makers, but nothing is coming together. Atlanta had a 21-0 lead against the Lions and blew it in London. That just sums up their season; disappointing.
It seems almost automatic that the team that wins this division will come up with the #4 seed and lose to whoever they end up playing.
I bring up the NFC South because of this interesting statistic.
Every year since 2009, the NFC South champion has had a higher seed than the NFC East champion. Four out of those times, the NFC South champion earned a first round bye. The NFC East champion has not had a bye since 2008, when the Giants were the #1 seed and lost to the Eagles in the Divisional Round 23-11.
4. SEATTLE'S SCHEDULE IS TOO TOUGH TO PASS PHILLY
Honestly, the Seahawks defense is not what it used to. You can blame the Madden curse, but head-scratching losses to San Diego and St. Louis have put the defending champs a full two games behind Arizona for the division lead.
This week they travel to Arrowhead to play the Chiefs. Alex Smith has not thrown a touchdown to a receiver this whole season. In essence, Seattle’s ball-hawking secondary will be bunk because so much of KC’s offense is through Jamaal Charles and short passes to the tight ends.
Six out of their remaining seven games are against winning teams (at Kansas City, at Philadelphia, vs/at San Francisco, and vs/at Arizona.) And the one game that isn’t against a winning team is against the Rams, who defeated the Seahawks in Week 7.
With Seattle’s recent struggles, barely surviving Carolina and Oakland, they will have to trip up along their difficult path to the end of the season.
5. THE COWBOYS SCHEDULE ISN'T ANY EASIER
Dallas hits the bye week 7-3. The Cowboys will struggle because four out of their last six games are on the road (at New York Giants, vs Philadelphia, at Chicago, at Philadelphia, vs Indianapolis, at Washington.)
The Giants (3-6) might be fighting for their playoff lives in Week 12 against Cowboys so that won’t be easy. It’s also quite plausible they lose one game between either the Bears or Colts.
What it comes down to are those games against the Birds. If the Eagles take care of business and can win either game against Dallas, the Eagles should be set to win the division and ultimately the bye.