PHILADELPHIA (AP)The No. 1 seed in the NFC is still on the table for the Eagles.
So is starting banged-up quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Hurts missed Philadelphia’s loss to Dallas because of a sprained right shoulder – a defeat that denied the Eagles the NFC East championship and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Had the Eagles clinched those top spots, the need to have Hurts play again this season would have been erased.
”He’s going to do everything he can do to get himself healthy and if he’s healthy, he’ll play,” coach Nick Sirianni said Monday.
Yet, even at 13-2, the Eagles need their star QB to try to win one of the final two games to earn the No. 1 seed that would give them a bye and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Gardner Minshew was serviceable against the Cowboys. But against a Saints (6-9) team still clinging to postseason hopes, the Eagles will turn to Hurts if he’s deemed healthy to play.
The Eagles had steamrolled their way toward the best record in the NFL until they were upended Saturday in Dallas. So now the road to No. 1 is a bit messy: Should Dallas win its last two games and the Eagles lose to the Saints and Giants, the Cowboys are the NFC East champions. And if that scenario unfolds, and somehow Minnesota and San Francisco each lose one of their two final games, the Cowboys are the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
That’s a lot of wishful thinking in Dallas.
In Philly, it’s a lot less complicated: win one (or a Dallas loss) and celebrate being No. 1.
Sirianni said he watched the Dallas loss eight times on Sunday to try to figure out what went wrong.
”One of the earliest talks we had in training camp is, adversity is coming. How are we going to handle that?” Sirianni said. ”When you have go through those things in life, when you have to go through things in football, when you have the leaders that we have, it makes those roads a little bit easier to navigate.”
Even if Minshew gets a second straight start, it’s not exactly cause for concern quite yet. The statistical website fivethirtyeight.com on Monday gave the Eagles a 97% chance of winning the NFC East, 96% chance of a first-round bye and still a 22% chance of winning the Super Bowl. Minshew wasn’t really the reason the Eagles lost, anyway (though a last-gasp throw was nowhere near a receiver). He threw for 355 yards, completing 24 of 40 passes and two touchdowns in his first start of the season.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Eagles need more takeaways – and to stop giving away the ball. The Eagles had two of their four turnovers in the final five minutes against Dallas, and a team that raced to a franchise-record start on the strength of ball security is suddenly having a hard time hanging on. The Eagles’ turnover margin over the first nine weeks of the season was plus-15, the best in the NFL. Since then, the Eagles are an NFL-worst minus-6. Their four turnovers against Dallas led to 20 points.
”You can’t turn the ball over four times and expect to beat a good team,” Minshew said.
WR DeVonta Smith had eight catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns and has teamed with A.J. Brown to form arguably the greatest wide receiver duo in franchise history. Smith has set a career high in receptions (79), yards (1,014) and TDs (seven) this season. Smith and Brown are the first 1,000 yards receiving duo in team history.
A defense that let the Eagles squander a pair of double-digit leads. The dagger: The Eagles surrendered a 52-yard reception on a third-and-30 that set up Dallas’ tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
CB Avonte Maddox (toe), DT Jordan Davis (head) and OT Lane Johnson (abdomen) were hurt against Dallas.
Sirianni said Maddox and Johnson ”would probably miss a little bit of time.” He did not put a timetable on their returns.
CJ Gardner-Johnson (lacerated kidney) is eligible to return this week from injured reserve, but Sirianni said it didn’t necessarily mean the safety would play this week.
3 – The Eagles are now the third NFL team since 1982 to have three players (Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave) with double-digit sacks in a season. They joined the 1985 Raiders and the 1989 Vikings.
Beat the Saints and get ready for playoff games at Lincoln Financial Field.
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