The Eagles Will Be Playing for Much More Than the No. 1 Seed Against the Saints

The path to the No. 1 seed in the NFC is simple for the Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Sirianni’s squad needs to win just one of its remaining two games to clinch a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Eagles would love to lock up the No. 1 seed this week against the New Orleans Saints, which shouldn’t be a problem even if Jalen Hurts isn’t able to suit up.

But Philadelphia has much more to play for than a first-round bye this Sunday.

The Eagles can lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win against the Saints

Jalen Hurts scrambles for a touchdown against the Saints.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts carries the ball for a touchdown during a game against the New Orleans Saints | Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is what the Eagles have been playing for all season. In the 14-team playoff format, the No. 1 seeds in each conference receive a massive advantage by locking up the only first-round byes and home-field advantage up until the Super Bowl. The No. 1 seeds have to win only two playoff games to reach the Super Bowl under the current format, and they don’t have to travel at all during that stretch.

After a 13-1 start to the season, the Eagles looked to be cruising to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. That journey hit a minor speed bump last week when Philly lost a nail-biter to the division-rival Dallas Cowboys. Now, at 13-2, the Eagles don’t even have the NFC East locked up. The Cowboys could still steal the division if they win their final two games (at Tennessee Titans, at Washington Commanders) and the Eagles lose their final two (vs. New Orleans Saints, vs. New York Giants).

It’s an unlikely scenario, but Philadelphia could drop to the No. 5 seed in the NFC if it falters down the stretch. That’s why this Sunday’s game against the Saints is so important. The Eagles want to secure the No. 1 seed as soon as possible so they have the option to rest their starters in Week 18, but that’s not the only reason why Philly needs to beat New Orleans this week.

Why the Eagles have much more at stake than the No. 1 seed against the Saints

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The No. 1 seed in the NFC is at the top of Philadelphia’s New Years wish list. There’s no question about that. But a win against the Saints this week would also go a long way in securing a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

You see, the Eagles own the Saints’ first-round pick next year in addition to their own. Last offseason, Philly traded two 2022 first-round picks and a sixth-rounder to New Orleans in exchange for a 2022 first-, third-, and seventh-round pick, a 2023 first-rounder, and a 2024 second-rounder.

As of right now, the Saints own the 10th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’re still alive to win the NFC South, which would give them the 19th overall pick at the lowest, but a loss to the Eagles would end their playoff chances and knock them closer to the top of the draft.

With a win on Sunday, the Eagles could lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a likely top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Boy, what a combo that would be.