<
>

With Eagles playoff-bound, here's what you need to know, including Week 18 strategy

play
Dan Orlovsky: The Eagles can be an issue in the playoffs (0:58)

Dan Orlovsky and Ryan Clark agree that Nick Sirianni's successful playcalling and execution make the Eagles dangerous in the playoffs. (0:58)

PHILADELPHIA -- It's official: The Philadelphia Eagles are in the postseason.

Sunday broke exactly the right way for Philly, which took care of business by beating the Washington Football Team on Sunday 20-16. That, plus a San Francisco 49ers win over the Houston Texans and a Minnesota Vikings loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, secured the Eagles' fourth postseason berth in five years.

"It was pretty cool to be a fan a little bit last night," coach Nick Sirianni said during his Monday appearance on 94 WIP. "On our way home from the game, watching on our phones, rooting for San Francisco and then last night rooting for Green Bay. It was kind of cool to be a fan."

Now the real fun begins.

Let's take a closer look at the seeding and matchup scenarios, as well as the big question facing Sirianni in the regular-season finale Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).

What seed will the Eagles have?

It will either be the No. 6 or 7 seed. The Cowboys (11-5) are the NFC East champs and the Arizona Cardinals (11-5) currently sit in the top wild-card spot.

The 49ers and Eagles are both 9-7. The Niners hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Eagles, so they would get the higher seed should they get in. But that's not guaranteed. If the Niners lose to the Los Angeles Rams (12-4) and the New Orleans Saints (8-8) beat the Atlanta Falcons (7-9), the Eagles would be the sixth seed and New Orleans the seven seed based on conference records, regardless of the Eagles-Cowboys outcome.

Who are they most likely to face in the first round of the playoffs?

They are currently projected to play at the second-seeded Rams. However, this is still very much up in the air depending on how Week 18 shakes out.

The various scenarios are enough to get your head spinning. Bottom line, they are most likely to play against Tom Brady and the Bucs (80% chance, according to ESPN's Football Power Index), followed by Matthew Stafford and the Rams, with outside chances of drawing either the Cowboys or Cardinals.

They have played two of those teams this season, losing 41-21 at Dallas Week 3 and falling to the Bucs at home Week 6, 28-22.

So how should they handle their regular-season finale against Dallas?

There is a strong case to be made for the Eagles resting their starters against the Cowboys -- a game that has been flexed to Saturday, the league announced.

For one, given all the variables in play, a win over Dallas does not ensure the Eagles will get their desired seed/opponent.

Second, with a chance of playing the Cowboys in the opening round of the playoffs, there's incentive enough for the Eagles to hold some cards close to their vest.

Third and most importantly, it allows quarterback Jalen Hurts and other key players to heal up. Sirianni was candid following Sunday's win over Washington, saying, "We all know [Hurts] is dealing with an ankle injury and fighting through it." He brought it up to illustrate Hurts' toughness, noting that Hurts approached him at the critical point in the game to tell Sirianni to call whatever he had to call to win, including a QB run.

Hurts sustained the left high-ankle sprain on Nov. 28. Sunday was the healthiest he's looked since the injury occurred, but it's clear by Sirianni's comments he's still not 100 percent.

A pseudo bye-week will help him, along with the rest of his banged-up teammates, while ensuring no other key injuries are sustained. That's really the only certainty in the whole equation.

Well, other than the fact that Eagles will have a spot in the postseason, however the details shake out.