Eagles fans should relax, as the birds remain very much in the playoffs driver’s seat

by Marc Narducci | Jan 3, 2023
Eagles fans should relax, as the birds remain very much in the playoffs driver’s seat
Eagles fans are in a panic and they should just relax. Yes, they have lost two in a row, both with MVP candidate Jalen Hurts sidelined with a shoulder injury. ESPN reported that Hurts is likely to play if the season finale against the visiting New York Giants means something. Coach Nick Sirianni said after Sunday’s 20-10 home loss to the New Orleans Saints, that Hurts was “close this week.”

So it appears as if he will go and the Eagles, who have been mistake-prone behind backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, could use a spark.
 Who would have thought a few weeks ago that the regular season finale would be more important for the Eagles than the Giants?

New York (9-6-1) has not only clinched a playoff berth but is locked into being the No. 6 seed. The game with the Eagles is meaningless and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Giants sat some of their starters.

Here is the key fact – if the Eagles win, they clinch the NFC East title and earn the No. 1 seed and the only first-round bye in the NFC. If the Eagles are the No. 1 seed, it would mean needing to win two home playoff games to advance to the Super Bowl.

On another topic, what we have learned the last two weeks as if we already didn’t know, is that Hurts should indeed be the NFL’s MVP.

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All that talk about him being a product of a great system, that many quarterbacks could win with the Eagle's talent, should be discarded for good.

In the last two weeks, the Eagles lost to the Dallas Cowboys (a viable team, but one that is prone to coming up small on big occasions) and to the Saints, now 7-9. The Saints, even after their big win, were later eliminated from the playoffs when Tampa Bay came back to defeat Carolina.

If Hurts returns after missing two games, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be MVP, although the Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has gained plenty of momentum.

Besides the Eagles, there are two other teams still in the running for the NFC’s No. 1 seed, Dallas and San Francisco.

The Eagles could lose to the Giants and still clinch the No. 1 seed if Dallas loses at Washington and San Francisco loses at home against Arizona.
San Francisco would earn the No. 1 seed if it wins and the Eagles lose. Dallas would earn the top seed if the Cowboys beat Washington, the Eagles lose to the Giants and the 49ers lose to Arizona.

While the Eagles will no doubt get a big boost with the expected return of Hurts, one concern is that right tackle Lane Johnson, who has played as well as any NFL offensive lineman all season, will miss the final game due to an abdominal/groin injury. He will need surgery but will put it off until after the postseason. It’s likely Johnson won’t be 100 percent, but he has been so dominant, that even Johnson at say, 80 percent is better than most linemen.

The Saints had six sacks and it’s doubtful if Johnson were healthy, that New Orleans would have been so successful rushing Minshew.

Philadelphia sports fans are used to having anxiety, but the Eagles control their destiny and should finish things out in a positive way. This was a Giants team that lost, 48-22 at home to the Eagles on Dec. 11 when the game meant something. It’s hard to imagine the Giants being any better when they have nothing to gain by winning.


Photo courtesy: Philadelphia Eagles

Author: Marc Narducci


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