Examining Eagles' potential playoff matchups

Examining Eagles' potential playoff matchups

We don't know who the Eagles will face in their first playoff game, but it has been narrowed down. And we know when the Eagles will play. 

With playoff seeding finalized, the Eagles will host either the Saints, Panthers or Falcons in two weeks at the Linc. The Eagles will host one of those three teams on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4:35 p.m. on NBC.

Here's how the NFC playoff seeds shook out this year:

1. Eagles (13-3)
2. Vikings (13-3) 
3. Rams (11-5)
4. Saints (11-5)
5. Panthers (11-5)
6. Falcons (10-6) 

The Eagles and Vikings have first-round byes.

Because the Eagles got the top seed in the NFC, they won't have to worry about the third-seeded Rams in the divisional round. They'll face the Falcons if Matt Ryan and Co. can upset the Rams. If not, they'll face the winner of the Saints-Panthers game. 

In the NFL, the highest seed faces the lowest seed still left. That's obviously an advantage for the Eagles on paper.

The Falcons will play the Rams in L.A. next Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on NBC. If the Falcons win, they're coming to Philly. If the Rams win, then you need to pay attention the next day. The Panthers will face the Saints in New Orleans at 4:40 p.m. Sunday.

If the Eagles are able to beat their divisional round opponent, they would host the NFC championship game on Jan. 21 at 6:40 p.m. on FOX.

The Super Bowl is on Feb. 4 in Minnesota.

Doug Pederson no longer an Andy Reid clone

Doug Pederson no longer an Andy Reid clone

Earlier this week, Doug Pederson had a chance to boast about his accomplishments in his first two years as Eagles head coach and he chose not to (see story)

He obviously could have. 

Pederson has guided the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game in his second year after many thought Jeff Lurie made a huge mistake hiring him in 2016. 

It turns out, Lurie didn't hire the same guy that stood at the lectern on Friday, just two days before the big game. This version of Pederson is different, better. He's a different coach than when he first started. 

"I think so. I just think I'm wiser, smarter," Pederson said. "You learn from past experience. I think I'm a better situational manager in the games and preparing the team and my messaging with the team. I just think you learn and grow every single day, every single week. But at the same time as I grow, I want to make sure that the guys are still seeing the same me every single day. I'm still going to be the same person through the highs and the lows."

One of Pederson's key messages to his players since he took over in 2016 is to be themselves. He wants his players to let their own individual personalities show. 

Pederson is no exception. It's been his goal to simply be himself; he just hoped that would be enough. Earlier in the week, he talked about how important it was for him to not try to be Andy Reid. Sure, Reid is his mentor and did a tremendous job for the franchise for over a decade, but Pederson knew he needed to be true to himself. 

And Pederson has been true to himself. It's just that he's naturally changed during that time. One of the biggest noticeable differences is his mounting confidence. 

When told he even seems more confident during his press conferences, Pederson sheepishly handed out a "thank you." 

"I'm not one to boast and talk about myself," Pederson explained. "It's about the team. But I just think that through experience that you're going to learn. You're going to gain confidence. ... So I don't walk around the building sort of beating my chest or anything like that. I'm just going to be me. I've always tried to exude the confidence and come off as a positive, encouraging person to the team, and that's what I'll continue to do."

'Nothing else matters' but Eagles-Vikings, not even brothers

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'Nothing else matters' but Eagles-Vikings, not even brothers

Last season, when the Vikings came to town for a regular season game, Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks and his brother Eric, a linebacker for Minnesota, enjoyed the experience. They talked all week leading up to the game, they got together on Saturday night before and greeted each other on the field on Sunday. 

That's not happening this week when their two teams face off in the NFC Championship Game at the Linc.  

The stakes are just too high. 

"None of that has gone down this week," Mychal Kendricks said on Friday afternoon. "I don't see it happening before the game or after the game or Saturday night. This is the biggest game of our lives to this date and nothing else matters." 

It's not like 27-year-old Mychal and 25-year-old Eric talk a ton during the regular season anyway. Sure, they're close, but each is pretty busy once the games start coming. But not talking at all? This is new and it's just because of how important Sunday is to both of them. 

The last time they spoke was on Sunday night after the Vikings pulled off a last-second win to put them in the championship game. The two spoke about their family and arranging tickets for them to get to the Linc. After that ... silence. 

Kendricks even said he could foresee a scenario like what happened after Jim and John Harbaugh coached each other in the Super Bowl and didn't speak for a little while after. 

Either way, the bragging rights from this game will be monumental. 

"Oh my god," Kendricks said before pausing. "Dude, I don't know if he'll ever hear the end of this. Unless we come back to the same situation, which is obviously possible. It happened once, it can happen again. But, dude, whoever loses, it's going to be messed up." 

Just because the brothers haven't spoken this week, it doesn't mean the uniqueness of the situation is lost on them. 

It's not incredibly rare for pairs of brothers in the NFL. Heck, Kendricks isn't even the only Eagles' player whose brother is in the league. But two brothers, who play the same position, meeting for the right to go to the Super Bowl? 

"I really want to know the odds," Kendricks said. "So anyone out there who's a mathematician and wants to entertain themselves with this, let me know the odds because it's crazy. It's unreal and it's the opportunity of a lifetime. It's something that we will remember forever."

While Mychal Kendricks is obviously the oldest — he called himself "the trailblazer" — he didn't bite when asked if he's the favorite son. He said that while his dad thinks it's funny to instigate that competition, his family is pretty good about not playing favorites. He's not sure what the family will wear on Sunday, but thought half-and-half jerseys sounded like something his mom and sister might wear. 

There's obviously a sibling rivalry between the two. They grew up playing sports against each other and competing.  

Being older, Mychal said there was a time when he hit a growth spurt first and began dominating his little brother. But then Eric caught up and things were even until Eric actually grew taller and started winning more often than he lost. That's when Mychal said he had to approach those matchups a little differently. 

Mychal went to the University of California and was the Eagles' second-round pick in 2012. Eric went to UCLA and was the Vikings' second-round pick in 2015. Both are listed as 6-foot linebackers. 

Their football paths have been so similar until this point. But only one will get to play in Super Bowl LII. 

"It's unreal," Kendricks said. "I've tried not to think about it just because I've lived in a room with this kid for 17 years, you know what I mean? And we've pretty much lived the same lives on opposite sides of our state. And now we're on different teams and we're in the same scenario, playing the same position. It's crazy, man."