NFC top threats to Eagles: Cowboys, 49ers’ formidable foes to Super Bowl victory

The Philadelphia Eagles have been the NFC’s class throughout the season and have faced any challenge that came their way. Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys, two teams with conference second and third best records – all the evidence the Eagles need to demonstrate conference superiority.

Not only did the Eagles equalize their best start in franchise history at 12-1, Philadelphia is 5-1 against their current playoff team in the NFL (the only loss to Washington Commanders). The Eagles have won back-to-back games by more than 25 points against teams currently in the NFL playoffs, the first team to achieve success since the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (which team won the Super Bowl).

Philadelphia must win three of their last four games to rive the home advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but there are plenty of contenders good enough to upset the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in January. Which teams can dethrone the Eagles in the NFC – or will Philadelphia break into Glendale in February?

Let’s take a look at the teams that have the best chances of knocking the Eagles out of the playoffs in the NFC.

1. Dallas Cowboys (10-3)

Even if the Eagles beat Dallas earlier this year at Lincoln Financial Field, the Cowboys have the staff to go to Philadelphia in January to beat the Eagles. Since the Cowboys lost to Philadelphia, Dallas has used Tony Pollard significantly more since the first match, as Pollard has taken more than 14 touchdowns in each game.

Since Dak Prescott’s return as quarterback, Dallas has been in the top three offensively and defensively, scoring 35.7 points per game. Prescott has made eight tackles in seven games since his return, but since returning from a thumb injury, the Cowboys offense has been more explosive.

The Cowboys are not a team to be taken lightly, especially since it looks like they and the Eagles will face off three times this year. Dallas can dribble against Philadelphia if the Cowboys commit to running, but the Eagles can also dribble against their 23rd-place defence.

The rematch on Christmas Eve should be good.

San Francisco has not had the pleasure of facing Philadelphia this season and is certainly taking advantage of being the best team in a bad NFC West. Regardless, the 49ers are a really good football team that’s been to at least the NFC Championship Game in two of the last three years.

Not wanting too much from Purdy and opening up great players like George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, he’s not missing a beat with 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy thanks to his brilliant Kyle Shanahan plan.

Then there’s the 49ers defense, which tops the league in points (15.0) and yards per game allowed (286.1). San Francisco also has a #1 running defense at yards per game (74.7) and yards (3.4) per carry allowed, a counter to what the Eagles provide with their quick attacks.

If the Eagles and 49ers face off, Jalen Hurts and his MVP caliber game could make the difference.

3. Washington Commanders (7-5-1)

How about the team that actually beat the Eagles this year? Washington beat Philadelphia in Week 10 (at Lincoln Financial Field), but Commanders also had to run the ball 49 times (most since the Eagles since 2004), converting 12 first drops (nothing like that in Eagles history) had not). franchise) and control time for 40:00 (most against Eagles since 2015). Basically, a lot of things had to go right for the Commanders to remove the sadness.

Can Washington upset Philadelphia again? Commanders have defenses to slow the Eagles offense and have only allowed 16.0 points per game since Week 8 (second in the NFL). They also average 146.6 rushing yards per game in the same range that is the Commanders’ game-winning strategy.

The formula to beat Philadelphia in Week 10 was to run with the ball, play good defense and force the Eagles to spin the ball. A lot of things should have gone right.

4. Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

The Eagles completely crushed the Vikings in Week 2, charging 486 yards and taking a 24-point lead in the first half. The outcome of this game was never in doubt, as Philadelphia showed the NFL that they would be one of the teams to beat all season.

Minnesota has 10 wins, but also has a negative points gap per year (the top 10 winning teams with that distinction in 13 games played). The Vikings defense was the worst in the NFL since Week 10, finishing last in the NFL with 30.4 points and 460.4 yards per game. Minnesota allowed more than 400 yards in each of the last five games.

The Vikings have the worst pass defense in the NFL, allowing 287.2 yards per game and 8.0 yards per try. Fortunately, this team can win one-point games (9-0 in these cases, the best in NFL history in a single season).

Minnesota isn’t peaking at the right time. The Vikings will take the top three places if they win the division, but they have the structure of a team that won’t make much progress in the playoffs based on how they play.

How does a team that isn’t even in the playoffs make this list? The Lions have been playing excellent football since the 1-6 start and consider one of the wild card points. Detroit has the most 30-point games in the NFL this season (seven), averaging 32.2 points per game in its last five games.

Jared Goff is having a strong season and to move the chains, Amon-Ra St. Brown has numerous pass catchers in DJ Chark, Jameson Williams, D’Andrew Swift and Jamaal Williams. The Lions have a blown offensive line on the guards, but the group is one of the underrated units on this team.

Moreover, the defense has only allowed 20.3 points per game in the last six games – 10th in the NFL in that range. Detroit is playing well and the Lions will likely be a tough game if they win a playoff game, as a lower seed will likely play Philadelphia.

The Lions scored 35 points in Week 1 against the Eagles, the only team to consistently move the ball against the Eagles defense. Don’t be fooled by this record.

6. Pirates of Tampa Bay (6-7)

The Buccaneers beat the Eagles in the playoffs, but that’s not the same as the Tampa Bay team that beat Philadelphia last January. Tom Brady can’t get enough coverage up front, and his running game is the worst game in the NFL (72.9 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry). The offense has scored more than 22 points in just one game this year.

Tampa Bay better worry about winning the division at this point, but the Buccaneers are a potential contender for the Eagles if they win the NFC South. After all, Tampa Bay beat Dallas in Week 1, so it’s possible Brady will come to Philadelphia for the divisional tour.

The Eagles defense was set up to stop the Buccaneers offense and the running offense was set up for big games against a struggling Buccaneers run defense. Like last year’s Philadelphia vs Tampa Bay, this matchup could be the Eagles have wanted for their first playoff game.

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