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PHILADELPHIA – With no guarantees to improve their playoff seeding, the Philadelphia Eagles rested the majority of their starters in a 51-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night.
One of the few regulars who fit, DeVonta Smith, had three catches of 41 yards in limited action and established a new franchise record in the process. He finishes with 916 yards this season and passes DeSean Jackson (912) for most receiving yards by a rookie in the team’s history.
Philadelphia’s attention is now focused on the off-season. The Eagles have an 80% chance of meeting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wildcard round of the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. The other teams in play are the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals or these Cowboys, depending on how Sunday’s games shake out.
Here’s what the offseason looks like at the moment and what scenarios await ahead.
• Playoff image and clinch scenarios »
• ESPN’s Interactive NFL Playoff Machine ”
• Position ”| Football Power Index »
In terms of seeding, it’s pretty simple: The Eagles will be the NFC’s No. 7 seed, unless the San Francisco 49ers lose to the Rams and the New Orleans Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons, in which case they would jump up to No. 6.
The Eagles (9-8) met two of their potential opponents in the first round of the regular season playoffs – the Bucs and Cowboys – and failed to record a win. They lost to Tom Brady and the Bucs in Week 6, 28-22, and fell to the Cowboys in both of their matchups.
But they are in the dance and it is an achievement in itself after a 2-5 start under first-year head coach Nick Sirianni.
Urgent skill: The Eagles rushed over 100 yards for the 12th game in a row, their longest streak since 2010-11 (19). They set a team record for most rushing yards in a season (2,715), a mark that had stood on since 1949 (2,607). Records are falling in Philadelphia and elsewhere, thanks in part to the added 17th regular season game.
QB statistics: Gardner Minshew got his second start of the season, finishing 19-of-33 for 186 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception. The Eagles scored 17 or more points in the first half five times this season, two of which came in the Minshew starters. Starting QB Jalen Hurts was one of the many regulars who got off. He still has to deal with a nagging high ankle sprain that he got in late November. The Eagles are trying to get him as close to 100% as possible before the off-season.
Can they beat a good team? The Eagles fell to 0-7 against teams with winning records this season. They took care of business against mediocre to poor teams (9-1), but have not yet proven that they can overthrow high-quality competition. They get another opportunity next weekend.