Jan 12, 2024 - Sports

Free-falling Eagles look to turn it around for the playoffs

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts scrambles.

Scrambling for their playoff lives. Can the Eagles bounce back against Tampa Bay? Photo: Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The once-graceful Eagles have crash-landed into the playoffs.

Why it matters: Winning a playoff game after a historically bad end to the regular season would help soothe tensions for grumbling fans who want head coach Nick Sirianni fired.

State of play: A season after making the Super Bowl, Philly (11-6) is projected by oddsmakers to have a less than 5% chance to get back to the big game, per ESPN.

Driving the news: There's still hope for the Eagles, who open on the road Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team Philly already beat 25-11 this season.

Zoom in: The Eagles, once perched atop the NFL and NFC East, have lost five of their last six games.

  • Meanwhile, the Buccaneers won five of their last six to claim the NFC South with a 9-8 record.
  • They're led by QB Baker Mayfield, who is banged up but in the running for Comeback Player of the Year.

The other side: Injuries are also a storyline for the Eagles, whether it's their bruised psyche or actual ailments plaguing QB Jalen Hurts and wideouts A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.

  • Hurts, who injured his throwing hand, is likely to suit up against the Bucs.
  • And Sirianni is optimistic that both Brown and Smith will play.
  • The Eagles also welcome the return of star cornerback Darius "Big Play" Slay, who has been sidelined since Dec. 10 with a knee injury.

Yes, but: That hasn't soothed the anxiety of Eagles nation.

  • Asked for predictions on the game, one Axios reader wrote back: "We're doomed. Bet the Bucs."

The bottom line: The stakes are high, so "Fly, Eagles, Fly" — otherwise the offseason will consist of everyone asking, "Why, Eagles, Why?"

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