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NFC East watch: Eagles and Cowboys vying for division title, top seed

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The Philadelphia Eagles still have the inside track for the NFC East title and the conference’s top seed, but what once seemed a foregone conclusion will come down to the final week of the season.

The Eagles lost their second straight game without injured quarterback Jalen Hurts and now need a win over the New York Giants to avoid potentially losing the division to the Dallas Cowboys, who have won six of seven. Philadelphia second-year coach Nick Sirianni said Hurts, who suffered a sprained shoulder in Week 15, was “close” to playing in Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles’ offense, which was shut out in the first half for the first time all season, hasn’t been the same without him.

Elsewhere, Washington’s loss to Cleveland ensured the NFC East will not become the first division in NFL history to have all of its teams qualify for the playoffs. Here’s a look at the state of the division, including playoff scenarios, with one week to go.

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Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

The Eagles came out flat, allowing a touchdown on the Saints’ opening drive and going three-and-out on their first four possessions in a 20-10 loss at home. Backup quarterback Gardner Minshew II finished 18 for 32 for 274 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Eagles were limited to 67 rushing yards and converted only 3 of 12 third downs.

“I’m not ever going to be somebody that is going to hit a panic button,” Sirianni said after the loss. “We’re going to double down on the things we think are true and we know are true, and we’re going to get better from this.”

Defensive end Josh Sweat was carted off the field with a neck injury in the first quarter and taken to a hospital. He was released Sunday night and tweeted that he would be back this season.

Remaining schedule (record in parentheses): vs. N.Y. Giants (9-6-1)

Playoff outlook: The Eagles can clinch the NFC East, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Giants. Philadelphia throttled New York, 48-22, at MetLife Stadium in Week 14. The Giants, whose playoff seed is already determined, may rest their starters. If the Eagles lose, they could still clinch the division with a Cowboys loss to the Commanders. It would take losses by the Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, who host the lowly Arizona Cardinals, for Philadelphia to clinch the NFC’s top seed in that scenario.

The Cowboys took care of their Week 17 business with a comfortable 27-13 win at Tennessee on Thursday and then watched as the Saints kept their division title hopes alive by upsetting the Eagles. Dak Prescott threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns, but he also tossed two interceptions, giving him 10 over his past six games.

Running back Tony Pollard, who sat out Thursday’s game with a thigh injury, is expected to return to practice this week. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will miss his third game with a neck injury but is expected to return for the playoffs.

Remaining schedule: at Washington (7-8-1)

Playoff outlook: The Cowboys have clinched at worst the NFC’s No. 5 seed. A win at Washington coupled with an Eagles loss to the Giants would give the Cowboys the division crown and the NFC East its first repeat champion since 2004. Dallas could clinch a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win and losses by the Eagles and 49ers.

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The Giants overcame a slow start to pound the Indianapolis Colts, 38-10, and clinch their first playoff berth since the 2016 season. Daniel Jones threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for two scores. New York outscored Indianapolis 24-0 in the second quarter, which included a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Landon Collins.

Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson missed his sixth straight game with a knee injury, but safety Xavier McKinney made seven tackles in his return to the lineup after missing seven weeks with a hand injury.

Remaining schedule: at Philadelphia (13-3)

Playoff outlook: With the Giants locked into the NFC’s sixth seed, first-year coach Brian Daboll told reporters Monday that he hadn’t decided whether to rest his starters against the Eagles. New York, which will play Minnesota or San Francisco in the first round, hasn’t won a postseason game since it won the Super Bowl after the 2011 season.

Washington Commanders (7-8-1)

The Commanders entered Sunday in control of their playoff future. They were eliminated from postseason contention with an ugly 24-10 loss to the Browns at home and wins by Detroit and Green Bay. In his first start since Week 6, quarterback Carson Wentz threw three interceptions and finished with the worst quarterback rating (31.4) of his career.

Commanders Coach Ron Rivera said Monday that Washington would be “playing to win” in Week 18 against the Cowboys and had not made a decision about who would start at quarterback. Rookie fifth-round pick Sam Howell, who has yet to appear in a game, is a possibility.

Remaining schedule: vs. Dallas (12-4)

Playoff outlook: Maybe next year.


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