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To Play or Not to Play? Eagles' Players Know Their Answer

If it's up to the players the Eagles will be playing to win against the Cowboys

PHILADELPHIA - To play or not to play?

That's the question Nick Sirianni must answer with Saturday night's regular-season finale against Dallas looming.

The Eagles have already clinched a playoff berth and jockeying between the sixth or seventh seed may not be worth risking the health of some key players with the understanding that the subsequent playoff game will be against a top-tier opponent on the road no matter how the dominos do fall.

"We haven't decided anything there yet," the Eagles coach said earlier this week. "We don't have to decide right now. We're preparing like we would normally prepare ... So, we’re trying to get our plan ready. We’re trying to rip through that."

He double-downed on that again Thursday morning, again falling back on conversations that are still onging.

It's the age-old question of rest vs. rust.

"I know there is a thing about resting, and there is a thing about staying sharp," Sirianni said while reflecting on his career as an assistant in which he remembered seven play-in games and only one already clinched scenario in Kansas City when Todd Haley was the coach.

The Chiefs played their starters and lost in both Week 17 and the first round of the playoffs.

The one player Sirianni did admit will be out is running back Miles Sanders, who has a broken hand and was never expected to go.

The small upside of the Eagles playing to win and getting it done against the more talented Cowboys is a jump to the sixth seed but only if San Francisco also loses to the favored Los Angeles Rams.

Of course, Philadelphia could also move to No. 6 even with a loss to the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field coupled with a 49ers setback and a New Orleans win over Atlanta.

The machinations at the top of the bracket are even more complicated with most of the scenarios pointing toward the Eagles facing the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round. The Rams are the next most likely option followed by Arizona and a rematch with Dallas.

For the Cowboys to get to the No. 2 seed they would have to beat the Eagles in Week 18 and have both the Rams and Bucs to lose on Sunday.

Because the Eagles play first they will not know their immediate fate win or lose.

Some of the play or not-to-play musing may be taken care of by COVID-19.

The Eagles placed 12 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, including starters Jason Kelce, Dallas Goedert, Fletcher Cox, Alex Singleton, and Avonte Maddox, along with running backs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott.

Under the NFL's new protocols all could be cleared off the list by game day but the Eagles already elevated DE Cameron Malveaux and LB JaCoby Stevens as COVID replacements.

Star right tackle Lane Johnson didn't practice on Wednesday to give a balky knee some maintenance and quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to be limited with his ankle injury.

For what it's worth Hurts wants to play.

"I love football, and I’m preparing," Hurts said. "It’s business as usual."

Rookie receiver DeVonta Smith is also champing at the bit to get out there.

"I feel like I need to be out there," Smith explained. "I feel like the whole team needs to be out there. It’s a momentum thing. We’ve kind of got everything going in the right direction, so just keep that momentum building."

Veteran defensive tackle Javon Hargrave also craves action.

"I’d rather play football. Any time you can try to get a sack, I’m going to go forward," Hargrave noted. "... I love to play."

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at or and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.