(Reuters) – Less than a year after their surprise Super Bowl victory, the playoff hopes of the injury-riddled Philadelphia Eagles are hanging by a thread as they enter Sunday’s game against the high-flying Los Angeles Rams.
FILE PHOTO: Aug 23, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) makes a pass against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
The 6-7 Eagles are one of several teams facing a crunch game this weekend in the National Football League, with only three weeks left in the regular season.
The playoff picture should be considerably clearer when the dust, or in some cases snow, has settled on Monday.
Philadelphia are not suffering a Super Bowl hangover so much as multiple injury headaches.
No fewer than 13 players are on the injured reserve list, out for the season, and the hits just keep on coming, with quarterback Carson Wentz likely to be missing against the 11-2 Rams.
Wentz has been diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae, according to media reports, probably opening the door for Nick Foles to start for the first time since week two.
Foles played in the winning Super Bowl team last season after Wentz suffered a knee injury late in the regular season.
Two games behind the streaking Cowboys in the NFC East after losing to Dallas last Sunday, the Eagles will need the cards to fall their way to win the division or even to earn a wild card spot.
The Rams, meanwhile, have clinched the NFC West, but still have plenty to play for, vying with the New Orleans Saints for the number one seed in the NFC.
The Saints, also 11-2, have clinched NFC South.
The 9-5 Cowboys, meanwhile, are riding high on a five-game winning streak, and will clinch the NFC East if they defeat the 7-6 Indianapolis Colts.
In the NFC North, the surprising Chicago Bears (9-4), fresh off a win over the Rams, could clinch the division if they beat the Green Bay Packers (5-7-1), who still have a mathematical chance of making the playoffs.
And in the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks (8-5) will secure a playoff berth if they beat the struggling San Francisco 49ers (3-10).
In the AFC, the New England Patriots (9-4) could clinch the East for the 10th time, despite their shock last-play loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday.
The Patriots’ clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers will showcase two quarterbacks with a combined age of 77 as the seemingly ageless 41-year-old Tom Brady (Patriots) and 36-year-old Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) take the field.
The Steelers (7-5-1), who have not beaten the Patriots since 2011, have a tenuous lead in the NFC North over the (7-6) Baltimore Ravens, who will be favorites against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8).
The winners of the eight NFL divisions make the playoffs automatically, while two other teams from each conference gain wild card spots.
The top two teams from the AFC and NFC have first-round byes.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis