PHILADELPHIA (AP)Here’s a familiar refrain these days around Philly: All the Eagles have to do is win one game and they are the NFC East champions, hold the No. 1 seed in the NFC, have a postseason bye and own home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The Eagles couldn’t reach those goals two weeks ago when they lost at Dallas.
They flopped with those prizes at stake last week at home in a debacle against New Orleans.
The Eagles (13-3) are out of fourth and fifth chances in the regular season to make up for another loss.
With a loss Sunday to the playoff-bound New York Giants – a team the Eagles smoked 48-22 last month – Philadelphia opens the door for Dallas or San Francisco to potentially snag the top seed in the conference.
There are myriad scenarios involved that could make that happen – and all start with an Eagles’ loss at Lincoln Financial Field.
”We were looking too far forward,” Eagles cornerback James Bradberry said. ”We kind of lost track of being in the moment and taking advantage of the opportunity we had at hand. So now we’re in this position and we can’t do anything about it. All we can do is prepare throughout this week and try and go out there and dominate and win a game.”
Help might be on the way.
Jalen Hurts was a limited participant at practice this week for the first time since he sprained his right shoulder three weeks ago in a win at Chicago. Hurts led the Eagles to 13 wins and stamped himself an MVP contender with 35 total touchdowns. Without him, the Eagles’ offense sputtered behind backup Gardner Minshew. They were shut out in the first half last week against the Saints and scored a season-low 10 points.
Minshew has completed just 58.3% of his passes, thrown three interceptions and coughed up a fumble while losing both starts in place of Hurts.
With the QB situation in flux, the Eagles are a still a 14-point favorite, per FanDuel Sportsbook, to knock off the Giants. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni continued to insist this week he will not risk Hurts’ health – no matter what is on the line – simply to win one game.
”It’s hard to keep him down because of how tough he is, the kind of competitor he is. He wants to go,” Sirianni said.
The Eagles haven’t divulged their QB game plan for the week and the Giants are playing coy with their starters, as well.
Led by QB Daniel Jones, the Giants (9-6-1) are in the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and are locked in as the No. 6 seed in the NFC. Coach Brian Daboll has yet to say if he plans to rest any of his players in the regular-season finale to have them healthy for the postseason.
”You just got to make a good decision based on information and the things you talk about with the people on your staff and make the decision that you think is right for your team,” Daboll said. ”If you go out there and lay an egg, it’s the wrong decision. If you win, it’s the right decision. So, that doesn’t affect it either way.”
The Eagles could make a serious dent in the NFL season sacks list.
The Eagles had seven sacks against the Saints, which pushed their team record to 68. Only three teams have more sacks in NFL single-season history – the 1984 Bears (72), 1989 Vikings (71) and 1987 Bears (70); the 1985 Giants also had 68. The 17th game could give the Eagles the NFL record.
The Eagles are the first NFL team since 1982 (when sacks became an official statistic) to have four players – Haason Reddick (16), Javon Hargrave (11), Brandon Graham (11) and Josh Sweat (11) – with 10-plus sacks in the same season.
”I’m pretty sure we can get there,” said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who has seven sacks.
Should Daboll rest Jones, the Giants will turn to Tyrod Taylor. The 33-year-old has played in 81 career games, making 53 starts. A sixth-round pick of the Ravens in 2011, Taylor has completed 61.4% of his career passes, with 60 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams (neck) is not expected to play but cornerback Adoree Jackson, who has not played in two months because of a sprained right knee, could return.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL