By Peter Gleason
In this strangest of strange years in the NFL, what used to be the hottest rivalry may turn out to be an afterthought.
After securing a wild-card spot with their fourth straight win Sunday, the Eagles are locked into the sixth or seventh seed in the NFC, and they host the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys (11-5) on Saturday night with the top priority being avoiding injuries heading into wild-card weekend.
“We haven’t decided anything there yet,” coach Nick Sirianni said Monday about his plans for the game. “We’re preparing like we would normally prepare. … So, we’re trying to get our plan ready, we’re trying to rip through that. I know there is a thing about resting and there is a thing about staying sharp. No doubt we’re taking everything into account, and we’ll discuss that later on today.”
The Eagles placed 12 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including Fletcher Cox, Dallas Goedert and Jason Kelce. It’s possible they could return in time, but there’s no urgency for any of them to play.
Jalen Hurts has played through an ankle injury that forced him to miss a game last month, so Gardner Minshew could see plenty of action against the Cowboys unless Sirianni decides he wants his second-year quarterback to stay sharp.
Hurts threw for 214 yards and ran for 44 in the 20-16 win at Washington. He has improved as a passer throughout the season and his dual-threat ability has helped Philadelphia’s run game soar to No. 1 in the league.
“He’s been awesome. He’s been tremendous, just the growth you’ve seen from him week in and week out,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. “I mean, it was big to see even this week. We had some chunk plays down the field. He was able to check it down to Boston (Scott). We had the big check-down to Boston. He went down the sideline for about 15 or 20 (yards). Those are huge chunk plays.
“When you can check it down to the back and you don’t have it there, that’s great. He’s also able to use his feet, as we know, but when you can get it to the back as well and you don’t have to run and take those big hits, those are big plays, so it’s been really good to see.”