The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys are set to square off on Sunday Night Football this week. It’s a BIG NFC East matchup.
In order to preview the Eagles’ Week 11 game against Dallas, I reached out to our mortal enemies over at Blogging The Boys. My friend Dave Halprin kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let's take a look at the answers. (Also don't forget to check out my Q&A exchange over at BTB.)
1- The Cowboys are potentially dealing with a number of key absences (Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee). Can you speak on how those impact Dallas and go over who will be replacing those players?
The injuries to Tyron Smith and Sean Lee proved devastating for the Cowboys in their loss to the Falcons. The whole world saw what Adrian Clayborn did to Smith's replacement, Chaz Green. He basically wrecked the Cowboys offense, and bonus scorn for the Cowboys coaching staff who seemed paralyzed and unable to figure out possible ways to help Green out. Dallas then tried reserve tackle Byron Bell at the spot and he wasn't much better. Suffice it to say, if Smith can't go on Sunday, it's likely to be a very long day for Dak Prescott and the offense. Similarly, whenever Sean Lee misses time this year, the Cowboys defense falls apart. With Lee, they are a decent defense, without him, it has not been pretty. At least they have Anthony Hitchens back and healthy, and he has looked pretty good. He'll move to weakside linebacker and the combination of Jaylon Smith and likely Justin Durant will man the middle. Unfortunately, Jaylon hasn't been very good this year when asked to play a lot of snaps.
As for Ezekiel Elliott's absence, we haven't got a real read on that yet, since last week the Cowboys offensive line, especially with Green, was a disaster. Dallas didn't even try to run the ball to the left side of the line, and the Falcons had no fear of the passing game because Prescott had no time to throw the ball. We think the combination of Alfred Morris/Rod Smith/Darren McFadden could be okay, but they really need Tyron Smith back.
2 - What’s one matchup that really favors the Cowboys? And one that really favors the Eagles?
The one matchup that favors the Cowboys? Hmm, that's tough. Maybe the Cowboys pass rushers versus left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Tyrone Crawford is having a decent year putting pressure on the passer, and the Cowboys could kick David Irving out there from defensive tackle on occasion, he's a beast to handle. They might even consider flopping DeMarcus Lawrence over to that side on occasion. Obviously if Tyron Smith doesn't play, then anyone the Eagles line up over the left tackle spot has a favorable matchup. I'm just holding out hope that Smith can play. So assuming he does, one matchup that really favors the Eagles is the running game versus the Cowboys linebackers. As mentioned above, without Sean Lee, the Cowboys really struggle, especially trying to stuff the run. So far, they haven't proven they can do it without Lee.
3 - I’m sure we’ll constantly be revisiting this question over the years, but I have to ask. Who is the better quarterback: Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott? And why?
Honestly, I feel like this question is premature. We just don't have enough information to make that determination. I think Prescott had the better year last year without question, but Wentz is having a better year this year, although statistically they are pretty close overall. I truly think we'll need four or five years of stats and analysis until there can be a definitive statement on who is the better quarterback. I imagine Cowboys fans are perfectly happy having Prescott, and Eagles fans are perfectly happy having Wentz. At this point, there is just not a lot to separate the two.
4 - Which one Eagles player would you steal if you could have them on the Cowboys? If you were FORCED to help Philly, which best Cowboys player would you put on the Eagles?
This question pops up a lot in these 5 Questions and I always wonder if it means for this game, or for a permanent swap? If it is for this game, I'd say give me Lane Johnson. That way I won't have to run a hobbled Tyron Smith out there and the Cowboys offensive line should be able to make a good game of it, protecting Prescott and allowing the replacement trio of running backs a real shot at running the ball. If it is for permanent swap, give me Fletcher Cox, I absolutely love that guy's game. As for who to give the Eagles? How about Zack Martin? He might be the best guard in football and would make the Eagles offensive line a terror.
5 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And do the Cowboys make the playoffs this year?
This is one of those moments when as a fan of a team, you just have to have faith. Everything says that the Eagles are going to win, and my head tells me that, too. But I want the Cowboys season to go on, to have meaning. So I am going to have faith that Tyron Smith plays, I'm going to have faith that the Dallas defense can overcome the loss of Sean Lee, I'm going to have faith that the Cowboys coaches won't be as inept as they were last week. I'm hoping the Cowboys will resemble the team that won three straight games, not the one that got blown out last week. So in my fantasy, the Cowboys catch an overconfident and rusty Eagles team in a down week, and win 27-23.
[Editor’s note: this Q&A was completed before news emerged that Tyron Smith is reportedly out for Sunday’s game.]