NFL

Playoff-bound Eagles non-committal on playing starters Week 18 vs. Cowboys

Jalen Hurts Eagles
Jalen Hurts
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

All the cards fell perfectly for the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17, and they’re officially heading to the playoffs because of it.

A come-from-behind 20-16 victory over the Washington Football Team along with wins by the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers punched their ticket to a fourth postseason berth in five seasons.

“We’ve kept consistent with preaching the same things,” quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “We’ve connected, we’ve grown 1% better every day. That’s been our true identity. With all the youth and inexperience from coaches to players, we’ve bought into who we are and what we could be. We’ve trusted the grind.

“To be able to persevere and show straight grit in tough moments, I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

It also capped off a sizable turnaround from a 2-5 start to the season that had plenty of supporters and analysts alike abandoning ship. So is life in the short-fused world of Philadelphia sports.

The Eagles have won four straight games and seven of their last nine to make the push into an NFC Wild Card spot. They currently hold the No. 7 and final playoff spot in the NFC playoff picture.

Eagles defensive end Milton Williams celebrates while leaving the field after the game against the Washington Football Team at FedExField.Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“When you’re 2-5 and you look at how you might get to 9-7, that looks really tall,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said on Sunday. “That mountain looks really tall to climb. But when you focus on one day, one meeting, one walk-through, one practice at a time, it becomes way more manageable. That’s what we’ve tried to do.

“I’m pleased with the situation we’re in right now. I’m pleased with the way we responded in today’s game. I’m just thankful for the guys on this team who fought through hard times.”

There is no way they can advance out of the Wild Card position with the Dallas Cowboys having clinched the NFC East title with an 11-5 record.

The two division rivals will finish off the regular season on Saturday night (8:25 p.m.) in a game that the NFL opted to reschedule to more of a primetime role despite there being no ramifications on the standings on the line.

What could be even more disheartening for a neutral, national audience is that the Eagles might rest their starters in Week 18. Sirianni told WIP’s Angelo Cataldi on Monday that a decision will come later in the week whether or not the first team will see any action against the Cowboys.

Dallas currently holds the No. 4 spot in the NFC after their Sunday evening loss to the Arizona Cardinals with little hope of improving upon that standing, either. So head coach Mike McCarthy will likely run into a very similar situation as to whether or not to play their starters.

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