We all know what’s at stake. If the Eagles win this game, the division race is virtually over before Thanksgiving even gets here.
There’s plenty of reason to think the Eagles will win this one. Their 53-man roster is mostly healthy coming off the bye. Philly has been playing legitimately good football all season long. They seem to match up well with the Cowboys.
The biggest mismatch of them all could be Vinny Curry and/or Derek Barnett against Byron Bell. Dallas is starting Bell at left tackle with Tyron Smith out due to injury. That’s a matchup the Eagles should be able to dominate. The Cowboys can try to scheme away from the left side of their line, but the right side isn’t exactly going to inviting for them. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are playing at a high level.
Philadelphia leads the NFL in total pressures generated. That doesn’t bode well for Dak Prescott, who was sacked eight times in Smith’s absence last Sunday. The Eagles could force Prescott into a lot of dropbacks due to their defense’s historic ability to stop the run. Prescott has yet to prove he can carry the Cowboys in the absence of Ezekiel Elliott, so there’s a lot of pressure on him.
Carson Wentz isn’t facing the same type of pressure in this matchup. Philly should be able to pound the rock against this Dallas run defense that ranks 26th in DVOA and 23rd in opponent yards per rushing attempt. The Cowboys have allowed 5.5 yards per carry when Sean Lee, who is out for this game, hasn’t played. The Eagles should look to test the Cowboys’ run defense right out of the gate. Run the ball with Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement and challenge Dallas to stop it. If they can’t, just keep running it down their throats. (And encourage the Eagles’ running backs to do Zeke’s dumb spoon celebration after every first down.) If the Cowboys limit the Eagles on the ground, then it’s time for Wentz to really make things happen with his arm.
Dallas will undoubtedly be desperate to win this game. They’ll want to bounce back from an embarrassing performance last week. Losing to the Eagles wouldn’t just potentially end their chances at winning the NFC East. It could also jeopardize their playoff chances entirely.
For the Eagles, winning this game isn’t just about the impact that it’ll have on the division. It’s also about keeping in front of the other top teams in the NFC. If the Eagles are going to earn that No. 1 seed, they’ll have to avoid slipping up down the stretch.
On paper, there’s no real reason to expect the Eagles to lose this one. There are a couple things the Cowboys do well that are at least a little concerning. The first thing is Prescott’s mobility. He’ll be able to avoid some of the Eagles’ pressure. Another thing is Demarcus Lawrence. The Dallas edge rusher has been having a strong season. But so is the guy who will be blocking him in this one: Lane Johnson.
I feel good about Philly’s chances in this one, and I’m not afraid to say it. Anyone out there saying “there’s too much confidence in the Eagles” ... you don’t get any credit if the Eagles somehow lose this game. None of the skeptics are providing good football reasons why the Eagles could lose this game. It’s just some BS about being rusty coming off the bye or something like that.
I’m going to say the Eagles win and they win big. The Eagles edge out the Cowboys when it comes to the most important areas: quarterback, head coach, and front office. The feeling here is that’ll be apparent tonight.
Score prediction: Eagles win, 31-13
Bold prediction: Jay Ajayi rushes for 150 yards and two touchdowns
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