Starters Playing? Eagles Vow to Beat Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons, Jalen Hurts

Getty Cowboys LB Micah Parsons flexes in front of Jalen Hurts during a 41-21 Dallas win on September 27, 2021.

While much of the talk this week has centered on whether the Philadelphia Eagles should rest their starters, there is still a game to prepare for. And it’s Dallas Week, a date on the calendar that evokes strong emotions twice a year in Philadelphia.

It might be (mostly) meaningless for the Eagles since they already clinched a playoff spot, but the team is jacked up for it anyway. Receiver Jalen Reagor said Nick Sirianni gave an emotional speech about the importance of beating the Dallas Cowboys in the regular-season finale. The first unit is preparing as if they are playing. And the first-year head coach has been beating the rivalry drum.

“Coach Sirianni was very emotional about it, like in the team meetings, so around the building, everybody is still taking it seriously,” Reagor said. “We’re still preparing to win this game.”

There are no “Beat Dallas” shirts this time around. Yet the stakes remain high for one of the most storied rivalries in sports.

“This game still matters,” Greg Ward said. “And it matters because it’s the next game and the next game is the Cowboys, we all know the biggest rivalry in football, and we’re going to approach the game like that. We’re going to go out there and play to the best of our ability and come out with a win.”

Wait a minute. Did Ward just guarantee an Eagles victory on Saturday night? No, he caught himself before the headline writers got to work.

“And try to come out with a win,” Ward clarified.

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DeVonta Smith Wants to Keep Momentum

DeVonta Smith thinks it’s necessary for the starters to play in Week 18. Smith joined Jalen Hurts and went on record saying that he expects to suit up. More importantly, Smith believes the whole team needs to get out there on Saturday night to ensure their momentum doesn’t fizzle.

“I feel like I need to be out there. I feel like the whole team needs to be out there, just a momentum thing,” Smith told reporters. “We kind of got everything going in the right direction, so just keep that momentum building, just another week to fine-tune the small things, just to keep everything going in the right direction. It means a lot to just go out there and just keep things going the way things have been going over the past few weeks.”

The Eagles sit at 9-7 following a 2-5 start to the year. They own the No. 7 seed in the NFC with a chance to rise up to No. 6 should a few things play out in their favor. Philadelphia is also riding a four-game winning streak while going 7-2 since October 31.

“We’re attacking this week the same as we would any other week,” tight end Tyree Jackson said. “Just focusing on the gameplan and trying to improve each day.”

Cowboys Place Stud LB on COVID-19 List

The Cowboys have already said they plan to play their starters. If so, Dallas will be missing arguably their best defensive player after stud linebacker Micah Parsons was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The rookie out of Penn State hasn’t been ruled out, but he’ll need to clear the protocols in the next 72 hours.

Parsons is a lock to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, with a real shot at taking home NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. The lone challenger there is Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt. Parsons is a Pro Bowl starter after recording 84 total tackles, including a league-leading 20 tackles for loss. He also has 13 sacks and three forced fumbles.

For the record, Parsons went No. 21 overall in the 2021 NFL draft to Dallas. He came off the board two picks after the Eagles took DeVonta Smith at No. 10. That means Parsons was on the board when Philly was on the clock. Smith has been fantastic this season, but is he better than Parsons? Time will tell.

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