Weeks ago, this Sunday’s Cowboys vs Eagles kickoff did not look all that appealing or significant. Dallas wasn’t coming off its biggest win of the season, a corker with the New Orleans Saints that ended with the ‘Boys preserving a 13-10 lead to the end. Philadelphia wasn’t finding a 2nd wind in its defense of the Lombardi Trophy…yet.
The teams are now at .500 (Philly) and above .500 (Dallas at 7-5) and will be jousting for the NFC East crown. To say the least, a head-to-head showdown in Jerry World will go a long way toward deciding things.
NFL odds-makers like the Cowboys, but only by about as much as the home crowd advantage is perceived to be worth on average. As in, just about a field goal.
Who: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
When: Sunday, December 9th, 4:25 PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Lines: Philly (+3.5) at Dallas (-3.5) / O/U Total: (43)
Nothing against New Orleans, but it was satisfying to see the Dallas Cowboys upset Drew Brees and the Saints in prime time last week. After all, TV pundits had all but given New Orleans the Super Bowl crown and ended the season’s suspense nice and early. The NFL is just never that predictable.
Jason Garrett’s team entered the contest as substantial underdogs and put on a defensive clinic. Brees was held to just 127 yards passing, and the Saints’ ground game was all but nonexistent.
Jourdan Lewis of the Silver Star intercepted the future HOF’er to seal the deal, causing a row on social media and the beginnings of a real rivalry between the Cowboys and Saints:
Thomas talked about Lewis only playing eight snaps in the game and came after his status as an NFL cornerback (Lewis has been used sparingly on offense FWIW). He also made his own implication, that Lewis wouldn’t be seeing a second contract in the NFL.
Nobody in their right mind would deny that Michael Thomas is one of the best receivers in the game, but the fact remains that his team lost. Jourdan Lewis opened the door for some trash talk, he did have his best moment as a professional after all, and this spat of sorts ensued.
There really does seem to be a bit of a rivalry brewing between Dallas and New Orleans. Saints defensive lineman Cam Jordan went as far as saying he hopes to see the Cowboys again which obviously means he wants a shot at revenge. Michael Thomas is a difficult receiver to slow down but the Cowboys managed to do it and as a result they’ve got bragging rights until the Saints earn them back.
That’s all true whether Thomas likes it or not.
It’s a weird scenario in which the defense gets all the credit for a low-scoring game in which the winning offense definitely did its part. Dak Prescott didn’t put up many points, but the QB was super-accurate on short passes and moved the sticks twice as efficiently as his more legendary counterpart. The Cowboys controlled the egg relentlessly.
Meanwhile, the defense is finally looking like the type of bruising, aggressive, solid unit that compliments Garrett’s stubborn straight-ahead playbook and an upgraded group of WRs that now includes Amari Cooper.
The Eagles are just glad to have a shot at the postseason. Philly lost to the Cowboys on November 11th, failing to get anything going on the ground despite Carson Wentz constantly threatening through the air and connecting with TE Zach Ertz for explosive plays.
Philadelphia has rushed for 4.2 yards per carry in 2018, but opponents have rushed for 5.0 ypc against a defensive front-7 that somehow, someway turned soft after prevailing against Tom Brady in February. Fletcher Cox, Chris Long and Michael Bennett have combined for 15 sacks, but there isn’t enough steady pocket-pressure for the defensive backfield to thrive.
Yes, the Iggles have won 2 in a row, capitalizing on a pair of down-trending teams in New York and Washington. But the Redskins are having all kinds of problems, the Giants aren’t very good, and when Philadelphia met New Orleans a few weeks ago it was a massacre.
It’s a mistake to handicap the Eagles as a defending Super Bowl champion that is starting to get its act together. Truth be told, Philly doesn’t look anything like it did in 2017-18 even when the team is winning games.
It’s also an error to do what national pundits often do, which is to judge the Cowboys as if their ceiling is actually the floor. I don’t think Jerry’s boys could pull off 3 wins out of 5 in a fictional “series” with the Saints right now, let alone the Kansas City Chiefs or the L.A. Rams.
But even in a sloppy outing, the Cowboys have enough to beat the Eagles at home. I’m thinking that the lackluster run defense of Philadelphia will play right into Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott’s hands. Once the hosts have established the ground game, it will be easier for Dak to hit his shiny new-and-improved receiving corps with accurate balls.
As for Wentz, expect an exceptional QB to fight back with 2+ TD passes…but there’s only so much you can do when your team loses at the line of scrimmage.
Take the Cowboys to win by 4 or more in Arlington.