The Eagles might be playing under the bright lights of a prime-time matchup Saturday, but you won’t see their best at work.
Philadelphia locked up a berth in the NFC playoffs last week, and though it has a Week 18 matchup against the NFC East champion and rival Cowboys, it has little incentive to go full force for the ESPN broadcast.
Why are the Eagles playing so short-handed, and who will be sitting? Sporting News breaks down who will not suit up for the game and why Philadelphia made those decisions.
EAGLES PLAYOFF PICTURE: Breaking down Philadelphia’s seeding scenarios in 2022 NFL bracket
Why is Jalen Hurts sitting out vs. Cowboys?
The biggest-name Philadelphia player on the bench Saturday night is quarterback Jalen Hurts.
In his first full season as the team’s starter, Hurts has been invaluable as a dual threat. He has completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 3,144 yards, with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also has rushed for 784 yards on 139 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. Both the yards and TDs lead the team.
Given how valuable he is to Philadelphia’s offense, the team has evidently decided it is not worth risking his health ahead of the playoffs in a relatively meaningless game. The Eagles come into Saturday as the No. 7 seed in the NFC and can only move as high as No. 6 in Week 18.
Philadelphia could move up to No. 6 by winning or losing. If it wins, it only needs the 49ers to lose to the Rams on Sunday. Should the Eagles lose, they would need the 49ers to lose and the Saints to beat the Falcons to move up to No. 6. If the Eagles, 49ers and Saints all lose, then Philadelphia will stay at No. 7.
The Eagles entered Saturday ranked No. 1 in rushing offense with 2,566 yards on 517 carries and a league-best 24 touchdowns on the ground.
Who else are Eagles resting vs. Cowboys?
Hurts is not the only Eagle sitting Saturday night.
Philadelphia announced before the game that running back Miles Sanders and several defensive starters were out. Sanders broke his hand in Week 16, but the team is hoping he will be ready for the wild-card round.
Here’s the full list of players the Eagles posted as inactive for the game:
- QB Jalen Hurts
- RB Miles Sanders
- T Lane Johnson
- OL Landon Dickerson
- CB Darius Slay
- CB Steven Nelson
- S Anthony Harris
- DE Josh Sweat
- DE Derek Barnett
- DT Javon Hargrave
NFL COVID-19 TRACKER: Updated team-by-team list of players in protocol for Week 18
Longtime Cowboys beat reporter Clarence Hill tweeted that 16 Eagles starters in all will miss the game. He pointed out tight end Dallas Goedert and defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, are among the 11 players on the Eagles’ COVID-19 reserve list.
The Cowboys’ list of inactives was not nearly as long, but it included notable players such as cornerback Trevon Diggs and running back Tony Pollard.
The @dallascowboys inactives at the Philadelphia Eagles:
– #7 Trevon Diggs (CB)
– #15 Will Grier (QB)
– #20 Tony Pollard (RB)
– #81 Simi Fehoko (WR)
– #98 Quinton Bohanna (DT)
— Dallas Cowboys Public Relations (@DallasCowboysPR) January 8, 2022