How Can The Eagles Make The 2018 NFL Playoffs? Colts Reportedly Have the Best Chance

GettyImages-1071856278 Andrew Luck
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck leads his 9-6 team against the 9-6 Tennessee Titans on Sunday in week 16 of the regular season. Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Hope springs eternal – or at least for one more week – for the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.

Meanwhile, the 9-6 Indianapolis Colts of the AFC South secured the final playoff spot in their division to keep their hopes alive and end their three-year playoff drought with a 32-30 victory over the Houston Texans. The playoffs start Jan. 4.

The holidays – or week 16 as pro football fans and gridiron pundits like to call it – gifted the 8-7 Eagles at least another week of competition in a league bursting with creative young quarterbacks and a new crop of emerging stars.

The Eagles, second in NFC East behind the phoenix-like 9-6 Cowboys, can still secure a wildcard spot into the NFL playoffs with a win over the 7-8 Washington Redskins on Sunday in Washington at 4:25 p.m. on Fox.

The Colts, second in the AFC South behind the 10-5 Houston Texans, play the 9-6 Tennessee Titans in Nashville Sunday starting at 8:20 p.m. EST on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

The Colts, also 9-6, may stand a better chance of winning, but the Eagles seem to be on a tear.

Winning the NFC East divisional title is out for the Eagles, but when you have slippery quarterback Nick Foles at the helm and a good read of the Redskins' man-to-man defensive coverage, anything can happen.

In a complicated game of NFL Twister, the annual potential playoffs scenario never ceases to entangle the best minds in a wild web of prognostication.

The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles are out of the hunt for the divisional title, but they can still secure a wildcard spot. However, they must beat the Redskins while the Minnesota Vikings must lose to the Chicago Bears on Sunday to grab that wild card.

Ike Reese, Eagles analyst and former Pro Bowl linebacker for Philadelphia, said the Eagles "must be ready to attack the Redskins' man coverage," provide protection for Foles against the Redskins, led by quarterback Josh Johnson and running back Adrian Peterson.

"For the most part, the Eagles have done a good job with the run and Malcolm Jacobs being a part of the front seven has been huge for them," added Reese in an Eagles game plan video. "They're going to have to continue that this week."

Analyst John Clark echoed Reese, saying the bottom line for the Eagles is to notch another key win:

"It all comes down to this," said Clark. "With the win over the Texans – it was another must-win -- the Eagles have another must-win. Yes, they are still alive and have a chance to make the playoffs."

Against Houston on Dec. 23, the Eagles offense exploded as Foles threw a franchise-record 471 yards – and boasted resilience after bounding back onto the field after a hard hit, reported CBS Sports. As time expired, Jake Elliott connected on a 35-yard field goal as time expired to clinch the win.

''Foles was so confident and everyone was so calm,'' said Zach Ertz, who set a single-season record for most receptions for tight ends, as CBS Sports reported. ''No one flinched. Guys stuck together.''

Referring to a 48-7 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints in November, Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson said that game was a wake-up call. But his team rebounded.

"I challenged the veteran leadership of the team and said, 'Hey, guys, we only have a few games left in this regular season. How do you want the rest of this season to look?,'" Pederson added. "They take it upon themselves the way they come to work every day, the way they rally the young guys. Because you know late in the season, the young guys can sometimes taper off, but our vets did a great job keeping them in the game – and the result is what you see."

Greg Cosell, NFL senior films analyst, compared the first matchup between the Eagles and the Redskins on Dec. 3, when Philadelphia pulled out a 28-13 win, despite Washington's quarterback blitzes.

"One of the things that really stood out … was how much man coverage the Redskins played and a part of that, was how much blitzing they did predominantly out of that man coverage," said Cosell. They blitzed 20 times and the one thing that really stands out is how they orchestrated their fronts. There's a great example where they actually sacked Carson Wentz in that game, where they lined up in a 5-across front, what we call a Diamond Front."

In order to defeat the Redskins' man coverage, the Eagles must run their offensive routes smoothly and successfully.

The Colts locked in the final wildcard spot in the AFC as they scraped to a 28-27 win over the New York Giants behind quarterback Andrew Luck's savvy lead in the closing minutes of the game. The win ended a three-year playoff drought for the Colts.

According to the Bleacher Report, The Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans are playing a win-and-in game Sunday night in the final game of the regular season.

The winner of that game will most likely be the AFC's No. 2 wild-card team, but if Houston loses at home to Jacksonville, the victor will be the AFC South champions.

In a split prediction, both the Tennessean sports writers pick a tight one-point game between the Colts and home-field Titans.

The Tennessean gives the edge to Luck's offense, as he has gone 10-0 all-time against the Titans – plus he is healthy. Luck has thrown 36 touchdown passes this season – good enough for second in the league.

But the sports writers give the defense and special teams edge to the Titans, who allow almost four points less per game than the Colts and who rank second in scoring and red-zone defense.

Brett Kern, Titans punter, has pin-pointed 10 consecutive punts inside the 20, but Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri remains steady.