Embed from Getty Images
By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
For the first time this season, the Eagles enter Sunday with a true must-win game.
While people always say that games are must-win, this game truly is.
If the Eagles lose this one, they are officially eliminated from the playoffs.
A big storyline this week is Dak Prescott suffering from both a hand (finger) injury and a shoulder injury. While he’ll almost certainly play, the Eagles could luck out if it affects his play.
In a similar boat are both starting tackles for Dallas, La’el Collins and Tyron Smith, who were each limited in practice the entire week, but do not appear on the official report.
RT Lane Johnson
Johnson will be missing his second straight game. His absence would put Big V up against DeMarcus Lawrence, so extra tight end sets might be even more prevalent as the Eagles attempt to give Vaitai some help.
RB Jordan Howard
This would be five games in a row now that Howard would have missed as he is still not cleared for contact. Howard was huge for this team, but his absence has allowed others to blossom.
On the positive side, Howard missing this many games may make the pick the Eagles traded for him drop back a round and there’s a chance the extended injury could allow them to bring him back on a prove-it or just a plain less expensive deal to help keep the legs of Miles Sanders fresh for late game/season runs.
DE Derek Barnett
Barnett has missed the last two games.
Barnett has been both great and disappointing. He has been disappointing in that his own stats just aren’t there. He has been great in that the rest of the pass rush becomes more effective with him on the field.
Doug Pederson indicated that Barnett is trending in the right direction, so there’s a decent chance he plays, which he is good as he is probably the second-most important Eagle on this list.
WR Nelson Agholor
Agholor has missed the last two games and his knee is now twice the size it should be, so he is unlikely to play this weekend. The Eagles have had discussions about putting Agholor on IR to free up a roster spot.
CB Avonte Maddox
A surprise addition to the report, Maddox popped up with a knee injury on Friday.
One of either Sidney Jones or Cre’Von LeBlanc is likely to to start in the slot for the Birds should the team be without Maddox. Neither should be a significant downgrade and both have as much potential.
The Top Ten Eagles-Cowboys Moments of All-Time
LB Leighton Vander Esch
Vander Esch being out should bode well for the Eagles. Make no mistake: Sean Lee is still a top option, but he is much older now. The Eagles tight ends and Greg Ward should have an easier time making catches over the middle even if Lee can keep up with the run game.
LB Joe Thomas
Thomas is more of a role player, but he plays between 25-40% of defensive snaps each week. His absence could certainly be felt, especially with Vander Esch out and Sean Lee dealing with his own nagging issues.
WR Devin Smith
Five receptions for 113 yards on the season. He has been a total non-factor for the team since week four. His absence could be similar to if the Eagles hadn’t had Mack Hollins earlier this season.
CB C.J. Goodwin
Goodwin is primarily a special teams player and has played just 21 defensive snaps on the season.