Micah Parsons landed on the Cowboys’ reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday due to a positive test. With this news coming four days before the Cowboys’ recently rescheduled Week 18 matchup, Parsons’ regular season is likely over.
The NFL slid the Cowboys’ regular-season-ending Eagles matchup to Saturday. Even with the NFL’s revised protocols, Parsons will likely not be in uniform again until his team’s playoff opener. Week 18 stands to be Parsons’ first absence this season.
While the Cowboys’ Week 17 loss prevented them from vying for the NFC’s No. 1 seed, the NFC East champions could still obtain the conference’s Nos. 2 or 3 seeds. However, they would need to win and see the Rams and Buccaneers lose to move up. A win and a Rams loss to the 49ers would vault the Cowboys to the No. 3 slot. The Bucs are less likely to drop, having opened as 9.5-point home favorites against the Panthers.
As for Parsons, he has likely sewn up the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year honor. The Penn State product has been a revelation for the Cowboys, registering 13 sacks and an NFL-leading 20 tackles for loss while playing both linebacker and defensive end. No rookie has won Defensive Player of the Year acclaim since Lawrence Taylor in 1981. Oddsmakers peg sack leader T.J. Watt as the favorite for that award. Parsons, who has helped the Cowboys vault from 28th to seventh in scoring defense from 2020 to this season, has the second-best odds for the award.
The Cowboys will have a bit more help at linebacker in Philadelphia. They activated Keanu Neal from their virus list Wednesday. Neal missed Week 17 due to COVID-19.