Slumping Eagles still have a shot at the NFC East crown, No. 1 seed

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Let’s look on the bright side for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Yes, they’ve lost two straight games, against two of the NFC's best teams. Yes, they’ve been sloppy. Yes, confidence has waned in Philly that the Eagles can return to the Super Bowl. Yes, the entire coaching staff is getting second-guessed.

The good news is this: Through all the slop of the last two weeks, the Eagles can still win the NFC East. Oh, and the No. 1 overall seed in the conference is still in play, though they need help to get there.

The Eagles followed a home blowout loss to San Francisco with a beatdown defeat at Dallas. The 33-13 loss gave the Eagles a series split with the Cowboys and put both teams at 10-3. As of Monday, the Eagles are the No. 5 seed in the NFC. Not great for a team that was 10-1 two weeks ago.

The Eagles went 2-2 during a challenging stretch that included wins over Kansas City and Buffalo. The schedule just may get the Eagles back to the top spot thanks to games against Seattle and Arizona and two against the Giants. Philly's remaining opponents have a combined 13-25 record.

Jalen Hurts hadn’t lost consecutive games as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback since October 2021.

“You don’t win without some type of adversity,” Hurts said. “That’s just the name of it. We’d love to come out here and be perfect. But perfection is only an illusion.”

The 49ers have a tiebreaker edge with the Eagles, should both teams finish the season with the same record. The Eagles have to win out and the 49ers have to lose at least once over their final four games — against Arizona, Baltimore, Washington and the Rams — for Philadelphia to earn the No. 1 seed. If the Eagles win out, they would hold all the tiebreakers against the Cowboys.

The Eagles know this supposedly easy stretch to close the season can be their ticket back to one of the top two spots in the NFC, with a potential bye or home-field edge as their postseason reward.

“We’ve played a lot of high-profile games here before and executed well. I don’t think it is the magnitude,” center Jason Kelce said. “These are good teams, and you can’t make mistakes against good teams. We’ve done far too much of that.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Special teams. Jake Elliott nailed field goals from 52 and 44 yards. Braden Mann connected with Olamide Zaccheaus for 28 yards on a fake punt. Britain Covey had an 18-yard punt return.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Holding onto the ball. Three of the Eagles' top offensive players had fumbles — Hurts on their opening drive, A.J. Brown to start the second half and DeVonta Smith in the fourth quarter.

“We are trying to make plays, man,” Brown said. “Of course, we have to hold onto the ball. But we are trying to make plays. Holding onto the ball, of course we want to hold onto the ball. But that’s the least of our worries. That’s just me being honest.”

STOCK UP

Jalen Carter. The Cowboys were cruising when Dak Prescott lost control of the ball while he was sacked by Fletcher Cox in the third quarter. Carter picked up the loose ball and ran untouched for a touchdown to get the Eagles within 24-13.

STOCK DOWN

Hurts. He was outplayed by Prescott and his fumble at the 20 on the opening drive was a big setback. Hurts has 15 turnovers this season, including five lost fumbles.

“They had good technique. On their rips, it seemed like they had really good technique in all three of their turnovers,” Hurts said. “It’s a testament to them. But we’ve got to be better on ball security as a runner.”

INJURIES

S Reed Blankenship suffered a concussion.

KEY NUMBER

1,200 — Brown became the first player in Eagles history with 1,200 yards receiving in consecutive seasons, including a record 1,496 last season. He has 1,258 so far this season. Brown is the second player in Eagles history to have at least two seasons with 1,200 or more receiving yards, joining Mike Quick (1983 and 1985). With nine catches against the Cowboys, Brown now has a career-high 90 this season.

NEXT STEPS

The Eagles play at Seattle in the first NFL game flexed to Monday night. This is the first season the league has allowed the possibility of moving games into and out of Monday nights between Weeks 12 and 17.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL