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Eagles-Cowboys Game Preview: 5 questions and answers with the Week 6 enemy

Previewing Philadelphia’s big NFC East matchup on Sunday Night Football.

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles are set to host the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday Night Football. In order to preview this big Week 6 matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Blogging The Boys. The deft Dave Halprin took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming battle. Let’s take a look at the answers. [For my answers to Dave’s questions about the Eagles, check out BTB.]

Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have all of the odds for this week’s games.

1 - What’s the confidence level in Cooper Rush? He hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire but he’s obviously undefeated as a starter. What does he do well and not so well?

I wouldn’t say the confidence in Cooper Rush is high as a quarterback who makes plays and leads a team to victory on his arm. That’s just not who he is as a quarterback. He has had some clutch drives at the end of games to help win it, but in general he is the quintessential game manager. You ask what he does well and the answer is he takes care of the ball, gets the offense into the right play, and gets the ball out of his hands avoiding sacks and bad plays. He has yet to turn the ball over in his four games as a starter this year. Some of that is luck as he’s definitely had some dropped interceptions, but he is very careful with the football. He is very good at audibling to the correct play, and he is one of the fastest to get the ball out from snap to throw. He’s decisive and doesn’t wait around for the pass rush to arrive.

What he doesn’t do well is he’s not going to zip the ball into tight spaces with incredible arm strength. He’s not a threat to run the ball, at all. He would rather throw it short or away rather than really scramble with it. He’s just not one of these uber-quarterbacks who can do amazing things. He is what he is, a game manager. He relies on a strong running game and an elite defense to greatly help him win games.

2 - How would you grade the job Mike McCarthy has done thus far? Has he put talks of Sean Payton replacing him to bed or is it still all about what happens in the playoffs?

He’s done an amazing job, post-Week 1. Not having the team ready for the first game was a knock against him, but since then he has done an incredible job of keeping the team together. He got them believing that the season was still wide open and that they could do something even with Prescott absent. He’s altered their approach some with Cooper Rush under center, and he’s allowed Dan Quinn to really experiment around on defense and do what he thinks is best to get that side of the ball to succeed. He’s got to get a lot of credit for getting this team to win without the starting QB.

He’s put all talk of replacing him to bed... for right now. But don’t get it twisted, if the team starts to crumble later this season, or they blow it in the playoffs again, there will be loud calls for Sean Payton. McCarthy has to win in the playoffs to secure a spot in 2023, and who knows if that would be enough with the long-time love for Payton among the front-office. Really, I don’t think you can say anything definitive about his future status as of yet.

3 - What is the Cowboys’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?

The Cowboys biggest strength is absolutely their defense, and more specifically their pass rush. They have been getting to the quarterback on a regular basis and they really don’t need to blitz to make it happen. Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong are all very capable pass rushers, and Osa Odighizuwa is doing a good job from the defensive tackle position. The one thing I worry about though is the Cowboys penchant for lining guys up in odd places and running stunts or overloading one side. With a running quarterback like Hurts, and the secondary playing a lot of man coverage, it could lead to some big runs on scrambles. That has hurt the Cowboys in the past and could be an issue this week.

4 - What is the Cowboys’ biggest weakness? How should the Eagles be attacking them?

Well, I think the obvious is quarterback. I would press the receivers and try to make Rush hold the ball a little longer for the pass rush to get home. But one thing the Cowboys can struggle with is stopping the run. Dallas is a fierce pass rushing team, but they are susceptible to a strong ground game. Running the ball keeps the quarterback out of pressure situations when dropping back, something that fuels the Cowboys defense. And it takes a very good cover secondary somewhat out of the picture. The Cowboys safeties and corners are pretty good tacklers, but you can find room running the ball.

5 - Who wins this game and why? With DraftKings Sportsbook listing the Eagles as 6.5-point favorites, what’s your score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Cowboys season?

I’m going to assume that Dak Prescott is not playing because that would absolutely change the equation. But with Rush under center, it kind of feels like that magic ride is going to end soon. This could definitely be the spot when it happens. If the game was in Dallas I might feel a little different about it, but being on the road makes it tough. Plus, as I mentioned above, a scrambling quarterback has really hurt the Cowboys in the past. Jalen Hurts’ legs may end up being the key to the whole game. For these reasons, my gut tells me the Cowboys will drop this one. Probably something like 24-16. But, once Prescott gets back and the offense is fully functioning again, paired with a defense that is playing elite, the Cowboys can definitely play with any team. So I would put them as legitimate contenders.

For EVEN MORE Eagles-Cowboys crossover content, check out the special NFC East Mixtape episode we recorded in front of a live audience on Thursday night.

RJ Ochoa and I also talked about the game in this week’s episode of The Look Ahead on The SB Nation NFL Show. We came up with bets where I’m punished if the Eagles lose and RJ is punished if the Cowboys lose.

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