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Cowboys playoff quest may be futile as the Eagles have no real interest in winning on Sunday

The Cowboys may come up short no matter what.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The fact that the Dallas Cowboys are even in contention for a playoff berth in Week 17 of the 2020 season is kind of a miracle. At one point this team was 2-7, and then 3-9, those are records that usually say “mathematically eliminated.” But given the state of the NFC East, the Cowboys recent three-game winning streak has thrust them right back into the race.

The scenario is known: win on Sunday versus the New York Giants, and then have the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Washington Football Team, and the Cowboys are NFC East champs. Beating the Giants is very conceivable. The other part of the equation looks to be out of reach.

The Philadelphia Eagles seem to have no interest in winning this game, helping the Cowboys, or messing up their draft pick prospects.

The Eagles have already ruled out nine players from Sunday’s contest while putting another on the COVID list, and these aren’t just fringe players either. Additionally, some of these players could probably play if the game meant something to the Eagles.

Here are the players ruled out: DE Derek Barnett (calf), T Fletcher Cox (neck), LB Shaun Bradley (neck), TE Dallas Goedert (calf), WR DeSean Jackson (ankle), OT Jordan Mailata (concussion), LB Duke Riley (biceps), TE Richard Rodgers (shin), and RB Miles Sanders (knee). S Jalen Mills was placed on COVID-19.

Running back Miles Sanders popped up on the list this week in practice. Our friends at Bleeding Green Nation think that if the game meant something, Sanders would play. Obviously most Eagles fans are happy that the team is sitting these borderline injury players as they are firmly in tank mode. You can’t really blame them, Cowboys fans would certainly have no interest in a) helping the Eagles, b) risking injury to key players in a meaningless game, and c) ruining a perfectly good draft position for no reason if the roles were reversed.

We think of Miles Sanders and Fletcher Cox as the key guys sitting out, but where things are likely to get very bad for the Eagles on Sunday (or good depending on your point of view) is along the offensive line. Here’s how our friends at BGN describe that situation.

There would’ve been value in [offensive tackle] Mailata playing if he was healthy enough but he’s not far along enough in the concussion protocol. Looks like the Eagles will be going with Brett Toth, who is wildly inexperienced as a pass blocker, at left tackle. Going up against Chase Young in his first NFL start will, uh, not be easy. Playing Toth and Matt Pryor as the starting tackles gives the Eagles a good chance to lose this game and not ruin their position in the 2021 NFL Draft. Poor Jalen Hurts.

It’s is going to take a minor miracle for the Cowboys to get the win from the Eagles they desperately crave if they beat the Giants earlier in the day. Maybe Jalen Hurts will have a game for the ages. Maybe Boston Scott will just go off. Maybe Brandon Graham will be a one-man wrecking crew.

Maybe.

But more than likely, the Cowboys are on a quixotic quest.