November 17, 2017
The Philadelphia Eagles return from their bye on Sunday night, and in case you were worried about a hangover following their week off, you can probably put that to rest right now. That's because not only will they be facing a fellow NFC team that's chasing them in the standings, they'll be facing a division rival who currently sits three games behind them in second place with another meeting scheduled for Week 17.
That's right, it's Dallas Week. And even if the playoff implications were removed from the equation, it's hard to imagine the Eagles being unprepared for their annual trip AT&T Stadium to face the Cowboys.
Oh, and did we mention it's a primetime matchup on Sunday Night Football?
That's nothing new for this rivalry, especially on SNF – these two teams have met at least once in primetime since meeting in the playoffs back in January of 2010. Of their 14 games in that span, seven have been on Sunday Night Football, plus an eighth if you count their 4:25 p.m. start on Thanksgiving* in 2014.
As you can see, six of those eight games were played in Arlington.
The Birds also happen to be 4-2 in those games, and they'll look to make it 5-2 this weekend. Here's what you need to know about the game, plus how we see it playing out.
TV: NBC | RADIO: 94.1 WIP
SPREAD: Eagles (-5) | TOTAL: 48.5 (via Bovada)
Earlier, we took a look at what other local and national writers are predicting for Sunday's game. You can check that out, here.
I thought the Eagles matched up well against the Cowboys even with Ezekiel Elliott, in that I trusted their top-ranked run defense to neutralize the Cowboys' potent rushing attack. With Elliott out, that task should be made significantly easier, as I expect the Birds to make Dallas one-dimensional, at which point they can pin their ears back and try to get after Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys are banged up, missing their No. 1 running back, and are a thoroughly mediocre football team even when they’ve had their full complement of players this year. The best and only thing you can say they have going for them is that Sunday’s battle with the Eagles is a home game. That’s it.
If this were a game against a similar caliber of opponent without the divisional animosity, I would be a little concerned about them coming out flat post-bye. But there is no letup during Dallas week, and I think Doug Pederson will have his crew ready to end the divisional race before Thanksgiving.
The Wentz for MVP train keeps rolling.
I almost wish Ezekiel Elliott was playing on Sunday, but probably not for the reason you think. It has nothing to do with the Eagles beating the Cowboys without their best player and everything to do with how the Cowboys offense will now try to attack Jim Schwartz's defense.
There was little doubt in my mind that the Eagles would be able to, at the very least, contain Zeke. But if he was playing, the Cowboys would keep giving him the ball to try to get something going. Instead, they're likely going to pass quite a bit more and, if I had to guess, let Dak Prescott get out of the pocket and make some plays for himself. That could change the dynamic quite a bit, especially if Schwartz decides to get aggressive with his play-calling.
Luckily for the Birds, that doesn't say anything about how the Cowboys defense plans on stopping Carson Wentz and Co. That's going to be the difference in this one, as has been the case throughout much of the season.
It's the Eagles' M.O. – their defense neutralizes the opposing offense and allows their offense takes care of the rest. Only recently, however, has the offense taken its game to the next level, going from averaging a healthy 25.75 PPG through the first four weeks of the season to a ridiculous 36 PPG over their last five games.
And with Dallas in desperation mode, the Eagles will go for the jugular on Sunday night.
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