It was the latest injury on a long list of premier players going down in the National Football League this season. The Eagles were the favorites in Las Vegas to win the NFC and play in the Super Bowl in Minnesota. But, the complexion of the entire conference took another turn on Monday when news broke confirming that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. It was what all Eagles fans feared on Sunday night and it means the team now turns to Nick Foles for the remainder of 2017.
|Jeff Gross/Getty Images|
So, now for the question everyone was trying to answer Monday and will continue to answer for the rest of the season. What does this all mean for the NFC and who will represent the conference at US Bank Stadium in February?
The short answer is your guess is as good as mine. Granted, there are teams that would be in better positions than others. During the last two months, on the heels of its defense and surprising play from quarterback Case Keenum, Minnesota has proven to be good enough to offset the loss of running back Dalvin Cook. New Orleans has been a model of consistency with its running game and improved defense, two things Drew Brees hasn’t had in a while. Green Bay would become a dangerous wild card in it were to sneak in as the sixth seed with Aaron Rodgers’ return looming. But none of those teams are the prohibitive favorites in the conference the way the Eagles were with Wentz, who was playing like the NFL MVP.
Of course, there’s arguments to be made for several more teams too. The Eagles could still get the top seed in the NFC, which would of course mean the road to US Bank Stadium would go through Philadelphia. Seattle can move into first place in the NFC West with a win on Sunday against the Rams and Seattle is one of two teams to beat Wentz’s Eagles this year. Carolina just got a huge win against Minnesota and the NFC South is up for grabs after Atlanta’s victory over New Orleans last Thursday. Atlanta, by the way, won the NFC last year in case you forgot. The Rams are still in first place in the NFC West and are still very much in the mix for a first-round bye. Even Detroit and Dallas aren’t dead. Both teams sit at 7-6, and Dallas gets Ezekiel Elliott back in week 16.
When you think about all the teams that are in the playoff hunt in the NFC, it puts into perspective how impressive Wentz’s season was. The fact that the Eagles were essentially the unquestioned favorite in a conference as deep as the NFC is this year says a lot. While you could do a lot worse than Nick Foles as your backup quarterback, it’s obvious that the latest injury in a slew of casualties across the NFL this year has pumped some more life into the chances of the NFC’s other contenders. With 10 teams in the NFC over .500 after 13 games, there’s obviously going to be some teams beating up on each other on the way to the finish line. Whatever the combination is the of the six teams in the NFC that are playing into January, it’s unlikely that there’s a clear favorite then either. Yes, four of those 10 teams are going to miss the playoffs and we’ll know who has the byes and who won the divisions. But with Wentz now out for the Eagles, you’d be better off picking a team out of a hat when the playoffs start and you’d have a one in six chance at being right. That’s how it feels now.