September 21, 2023

Storylines: Cowboys @ Eagles, January 8


AP Photo/Alex Brandon

We did it! For the first time ever, we’ve survived till week 18. And the 9-7 Eagles have a big game in front of them. But it’s not this one.

The Birds must get through a mostly meaningless affair against the 11-5 Dallas Cowboys Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field before they can fully focus on their (currently unknown) wild card opponent.

Here’s two (yes I know, jus two) storylines:

A meaningless game

The Eagles don’t have much to play for by going all out to win this week 18 matchup. Even if they move up to the sixth seed, they’re still likely to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs. And so Philly will most likely be resting a number of key players against Dallas.

It’s not completely clear if the starters will be resting entirely from the jump. Perhaps they’ll see a drive or two, like the preseason. Maybe the Eagles don’t want to chance it at all.

In any case, this game will give us an extra look at some players we don’t normally get to see on the field. Getting a look of the team’s young, developmental players should be interesting.

Can anyone manage to stand out and show intriguing promise moving forward? Especially as they’re going up against some of the Cowboys’ starters?

Dallas won’t exactly be at full force; they’ve already ruled out some key contributors (Micah Parsons, Tyron Smith, Trevon Diggs). But the sense is that they’re looking to bounce back after losing the Arizona Cardinals last week. The Cowboys also have more to play for in terms of moving up to the second or third seed, even though it’s not necessarily likely that’ll happen for them. They also look to sweep the NFC East.

Ultimately, the Cowboys should be expected to win this game. But it would be pretty fun if the Eagles’ backups somehow found a way to pull off an upset.

The streak will live on

The Eagles activated five-time Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce from the COVID 19 list Friday afternoon, which means he’ll be available Saturday night.

Kelce was the first of the 12 Eagles placed on the COVID list on Monday to be activated back onto the 53-man roster.

This normally wouldn’t be significant because as I’ve been saying this games is meaningless. But Kelce has a streak of 121 consecutive regular-season starts that dates back to late in the 2014 season. It’s the longest current streak of consecutive starts among NFL interior linemen — Bucs center Ryan Jensen is next at 80 — and it’s also the fourth-longest starting streak in Eagles history. Kelce moved past Reggie White when he started the game against Washington this past Sunday. The only longer streaks in franchise history belong to Jon Runyan (144 games from 2000-2008), Herm Edwards (135 from 1977-1985), Jerry Sisemore (127 from 1974 through 1982), and Randy Logan (124 from 1973-1981).

So while it’s unlikely Kelce would play very long if he does play Saturday night, he at least now has the option of starting the game, extending his streak, taking a bow for the home fans at the Linc, and then letting Luke Juriga play the rest of the game.

Because Kelce’s future is up in the air — he’s 34 and in his 11th NFL season — it’s possible this will be his final home game in an Eagles uniform. With Kelce being my favorite Eagle of all time, that hurt to type.

The 11 others who tested positive on Monday remain on the COVID list: Fletcher Cox, Dallas Goedert, Rodney McLeod, Avonte Maddox, Alex Singleton, Nate Herbig, Boston Scott, Genard Avery, Jordan Howard, Marcus Epps, and Jack Stoll. The Eagles are allowed to activate an extra practice squad player for every member of the 53-man roster still on the COVID list. 

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