By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles have officially been eliminated from the NFC playoff picture. Thursday night’s loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals assures the Eagles will head in to the final two weeks of the season with the worst record in the NFC, with three losses against the only other three teams eliminated form the NFC playoffs – Detroit, Carolina and Arizona. With playoff hopes dashed long ago and the state of the team in a downward spiral, with roster and staff changes along the way to the end of the season, the question remains if and when Andy Reid will be removed as head coach, and where the team goes from there.
In what looks to be a potential off-season of great change in Philadelphia, some may be eyeing a top draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft with the Eagles having a number of holes to try and fill. If the season ended today, prior to Sunday’s schedule, the Eagles would be slated to draft sixth overall, putting the team in a good position to take a solid player at offensive or defensive line or perhaps even linebacker. Alabama center Barrett Jones, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o are all players the Eagles could be wise to keep a close eye on in this position. But the Eagles are in good position to possibly crack the top five of the draft order as well.
If you are an Eagles fan hoping for a top five draft pick, here are the five games you will want to pay attention to this weekend around the NFL.
Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers: The resurgent Panthers head out west to take on a struggling San Diego team. If Cam Newton can keep the offense coming through with big plays then it would not be a shock to see the Eagles be able to take advantage in the draft order. A Carolina win would give the Panthers five wins, which would drop them below the four-win Eagles in the draft and move Philadelphia in to the top five.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Detroit Lions: The Cardinals and Lions each enter this weekend with four wins and the Eagles were in the middle of the two in the draft order heading in to the week’s schedule. The Eagles have head-to-head losses against each but would benefit more from Arizona picking up the win, as they are currently two spots behind Arizona in the draft order. A win for Arizona would give them five wins and drop them down a few spots in the draft.
A Carolina and Arizona win would move the Eagles in to the top four of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Jacksonville @ Miami Dolphins: The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently in position for the second overall draft pick in the draft and are on the road at Miami with a record of 2-11. Passing the Jaguars in the draft order appears far-fetched at this point in the season but if Jacksonville happens to win at Miami, then it may become a possibility. The problem is Jacksonville plays New England next week and ends the season at Tennessee. It may be time to forget about moving past Jacksonville in the draft order. Jacksonville has won the only game they have played in Miami in franchise history, with a 24-10 victory in 2006.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders: The Eagles are chasing these two AFC West rivals, with the Raiders and Chiefs occupying two of the top three spots in the 2013 NFL Draft entering the weekend. Kansas City is on track to secure the top overall pick but a road win at Oakland is what the Eagles fans will want to be pulling for. It may be too late to pass Kansas City, which puts the focus on Oakland. A loss for the Chiefs moves Oakland to 4-10. The Raiders end the season with two road games, at Carolina and at San Diego. Picking up a fifth win in either game is not out of the question. Oakland has won two straight games against Kansas City in this AFC West rivalry, including a 26-16 road win earlier this season.
In Summary: Eagles fans rooting for a top five draft pick should be rooting for Oakland, Jacksonville, Arizona, and Carolina this weekend.
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Kevin McGuire covers college football for Examiner.com and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter (@KevinOnCFB). His work can be found on Examiner.com.