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By squandering their chance for a first-round bye, the Philadelphia Eagles are locked into the No. 3 seed for the NFC playoffs - but it also gave Michael Vick a chance to rest.

A severe leg bruise is likely to keep Vick out of Sunday's regular-season finale when the Eagles host the rival Dallas Cowboys.

Philadelphia (10-5) can neither improve nor worsen its playoff positioning no matter the outcome after a 24-14 loss Tuesday against Minnesota. The defeat dashed the Eagles' hopes of earning one of the top two seeds and the corresponding first-round bye.

Vick said he hurt himself on the second play of the game but attempted to continue through the pain given the playoff implications. It's possible he might not have played this game regardless of the injury, though he did miss practice Thursday and coach Andy Reid is not expected to let him take the field Sunday.

Vick went 23 for 45 for 263 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Vikings. He also rushed for a score, but got sacked six times and lost two fumbles.

"I'm a competitor. I always want to play but, ultimately, it's Andy's decision," Vick said. "He'll make the best decision possible and I'll go with whatever he asks me to do."

Vick isn't the only injured Eagles star. Receiver DeSean Jackson is nursing a sore foot and cornerback Asante Samuel, who leads the NFL with seven interceptions, underwent an MRI earlier this week on his sore knee. Reid said he will evaluate his squad throughout the week.

"Some guys need the play time, some guys need the rest time," Reid said. "So I have to look at who those guys are, and what situations I put them in."

If Reid does rest Vick, Kevin Kolb will get the start. Kolb began the season as the Eagles' No. 1 quarterback, but sustained a concussion in a Week 1 loss to Green Bay, paving the way for Vick to set career highs in passing yards (3,018), passing touchdowns (21) and rushing touchdowns (nine) in only 12 games.

Sunday's matchup once projected as a possible matchup for the NFC East title, but has lost its luster given the Cowboys' struggles.

Dallas (5-10) simply hopes to finish the season on a positive note under interim coach Jason Garrett, who is 4-3 since taking over for the fired Wade Phillips.

The Cowboys lost 27-26 to Arizona on Christmas night, when they were forced to use third-string quarterback Stephen McGee for the second half. Jon Kitna left the contest with a strained abdominal muscle, and McGee - seeing his first action in an NFL game - went 11 of 17 for 111 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers.

McGee lead a scoring drive culminating in a 37-yard TD pass to Miles Austin to give the Cowboys the lead with 1:41 remaining. However, David Buehler missed the extra point, allowing the Cardinals to kick the game-winning field goal with five seconds left.

Despite McGee's success, Garrett said he will start Kitna if the 38-year-old is healthy enough to go. Kitna did not practice again Friday but will make the trip to Philadelphia, so it's still possible he could play and perhaps even start.

"Right now, there's no pain in it just standing here,'' Kitna said Wednesday. "But certain movements make it feel like there's a knife in your side. I've got to be able to throw the football. I've got to be able to make all the throws. ... This is one of those injuries that can kind of linger for three or four days and then it can just be gone. Hopefully that'll be the case.''

McGee, who ran the first team during midweek practices, said he is prepared to start if Kitna can't play.

"I had fun going out there in practice (Wednesday), competing, getting guys in and out of the huddle,'' McGee said. "I love that. I love playing football, being around the game. This is my dream job, playing quarterback in the NFL, especially for the Dallas Cowboys. I'm having a blast and just continuing to get better this week and making strides toward Sunday.''

If Dallas plans to end its season on a positive note, its 23rd-ranked defense may need to step up no matter who the Eagles decided to play on offense. The Cowboys have given up an average of 30.5 points while losing three of five. For the season, they've allowed 423 points - already a franchise high despite having one game remaining.

Philadelphia won 30-27 at Dallas on Dec. 12, when Vick threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. Dallas has won three of the last four meetings, including a 34-14 victory in last season's wild-card playoff game.

Tagged: Cowboys, Eagles, Michael Vick, Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee

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