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Spadaro: Who is the Eagles' biggest competition in the NFC?

Josh Sweat
Josh Sweat

You can only control what you can control, right? That's how the Eagles look at things, but for others, it can be fun to take a look around the NFC East and the entire conference as the stretch run to the postseason comes into focus.

The Eagles, with an NFL-best 8-1 record, top the NFC with eight games remaining. There are others very much in the mix, and here is a snapshot of those teams:

Detroit Lions (7-2)

Led by a powerful offense that averages more than 400 yards per game and ranks in the top five in both passing and running, the Lions have positioned themselves atop the NFC North. They beat the Chargers 41-38 on Sunday and for the first time in franchise history recorded 325 yards passing and more than 200 yards rushing, and "aggressive" is their personality. They have converted 12 fourth downs, second only to the Eagles' 13 this season.

Detroit hasn't been in the playoffs since the 2016 season and hasn't won a division title since 1991.

The Lions have a relatively smooth path to the postseason, with two games against Chicago and Minnesota, a game hosting the Packers, one hosting Denver, at New Orleans, and Dallas.

The Lions have given up 38 points in two of their last three games, something to watch down the stretch of the regular season.

San Francisco 49ers (6-3)

Healthy after their bye week, the 49ers stormed Jacksonville and defeated the Jaguars, 34-3. San Francisco made a big move at the trade deadline, acquiring defensive end Chase Young and teaming him with Nick Bosa on the outside of the team's pass rush. The 49ers dominated quarterback Trevor Lawrence to end a three-game losing streak.

San Francisco visits Lincoln Financial Field on December 3 and also has some tough games down the stretch: The 49ers host Tampa Bay on Sunday, play at Seattle on November 23, visit Philadelphia, and then finish the regular season with a home game against Seattle, a road game at Arizona, and a home game against Baltimore.

Dallas Cowboys (6-3)

Dallas blew out the struggling New York Giants on Sunday and are two games behind the Eagles in the NFC East. The teams play again on December 10 in Dallas and before that the Cowboys play at Carolina, host Washington, and host Seattle. Following the rematch against the Eagles, Dallas plays at Buffalo and at Miami, hosts Detroit, and plays at Washington to end the regular season.

Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

After winning a tough one Sunday against Washington, the Seahawks enter the grinding part of their schedule: at the Rams, home with San Francisco, at Dallas, at San Francisco, and home with the Eagles before finishing the season at Tennessee, home with the Steelers, and at Arizona.

A young team, Seattle is a playoff-caliber team that plays solid football on both sides of the line of scrimmage and largely relies on the performance of quarterback Geno Smith, who is coming off his best game of the year – 369 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Washington.

After throwing 30 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions last season, Smith has 11 TDs and 7 interceptions in 2023.

Minnesota Vikings (6-4)

A funny thing happened on the way to a season that seemed doomed for the Minnesota Vikings after losing quarterback Kirk Cousins (for the season with a torn Achilles tendon) and wide receiver Justin Jefferson (set to return from Injured Reserve after suffering a hamstring injury): Minnesota turned it all around.

The Vikings have won five straight games and new quarterback Joshua Dobbs has been a revelation. In the two games he has played with the Vikings, Dobbs has three touchdown passes and two scoring runs in wins over Atlanta and New Orleans.

The remaining schedule is bumpy – at Denver, home with Chicago, at the Raiders after Minnesota's bye week, at Cincinnati, Detroit, Green Bay, and at the Lions to finish the regular season. Can the Vikings sustain their strong play and reach the postseason? Given what Dobbs has been through this season – the Vikings are his third team – Minnesota thinks anything is possible.

New Orleans Saints (5-5)

The leaders of the NFC South, the Saints have their bye week this weekend and then return with the stretch run of at Atlanta, home with Detroit, home with Carolina, home with the Giants, at the Rams, at Tampa Bay, and home against Atlanta.

As banged up and inconsistent as they've been, the Saints control their fate in the division and should be very much in the mix in the NFC South and the conference playoff picture.

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