October 12, 2022
Despite a close one against Arizona, the Eagles are still the NFL's last undefeated team at 5-0 and are atop the NFC East, but somehow, even without Dak Prescott, the Cowboys have kept up in the division race, winning four straight.
So Sunday night at the Linc will have early divisional control on the line, and if the Eagles can finally break through and beat the Cowboys, which hasn't happened since Jalen Hurts took over at quarterback, it will be a major statement that this team is absolutely no fluke.
For the most part, our writers think this one is going to go the Eagles' way.
Wrote John McMullen:
There is only one unbeaten team left in the NFL but there are two starting quarterbacks with no blemishes: Jalen Hurts and Cooper Rush. If you were able to get that prop bet Las Vegas is calling. The 5-0 Eagles host the 4-1 Cowboys on "Sunday Night Football" and Rush, who has 14 transactions on his resume since arriving in the league as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan in 2017, has game-managed Dallas to a 4-0 record since Dak Prescott went down with a thumb injury that required surgery in a season-opening loss to Tampa Bay.
The Cowboys have had the Eagles' number recently but the landscape has done a 180 in 2022 and it's now the Eagles with the explosive offense and Dallas with the smaller margin of error.
What the Cowboys do have is perhaps the most dominant defender in the game in former Penn State star Micah Parsons, who is expected to play despite a tweaked groin, and noted Eagles killer Trevon Diggs, who already has four interceptions against Philadelphia in his young career, including a 59-yard pick-six of Jalen Hurts last season.
The small path to a Dallas win is turnovers and while the Cowboys are still great at taking it away, the Eagles lead the NFL in turnover differential with Hurts managing to steward an offense that generates explosive plays yet takes care of the football. That's a recipe you can't game-manage your way past and 6-0 is right around the corner for Philadelphia. [PhillyVoice]
How's everyone else feeling? Let's take a look...
• Inquirer.com: All three of the Inky's writers are expecting an Eagles victory. Here's a snipped of E.J. Smith's reasoning for the Eagles prevailing 24-21:
This doesn’t have the feeling of a shootout. It’s actually a matchup between the Eagles fifth-ranked defense and the Cowboys sixth-ranked group. The Eagles’ banged-up offensive line will need to either protect or get the accommodations needed to stay afloat, but the Eagles have the talent advantage once again and should go into the bye week 6-0. [The Inquirer, $]
• The Athletic: 'Villain in a Kevin James movie' is certainly a new way to describe Hurts. Nevertheless, senior writer Vic Tafur has the Eagles winning and covering the spread.
The only real competition for Allen for MVP honors is Jalen Hurts, the villain in our big-budget Kevin James movie. And while the biggest reason the Cowboys have won four games in a row is Micah Parsons and their pass rush, they won’t be going against the Bengals, Giants, Commanders or Rams offensive lines this week. The Eagles group is the real deal. While the Cowboys’ 49 QB hits through five games ranks second to only the 2020 Steelers (56), the Eagles have allowed just six non-sack hits on the QB, per PFF. That’s the third-fewest in the NFL.
That means the Eagles, who lost the two games against the Cowboys last season by a combined 45 points, will put some points up this time around. Rush will have to start making some plays. Only 26.9 percent of Rush’s third- and fourth-down pass attempts have moved the chains — the fourth-lowest rate among QBs with 100-plus total attempts. This spread should be 7 or 8.
The pick: Eagles (-6) [The Athletic, $]
• Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: The Cowboys' defense can take away the pass, but is that going to matter when the Eagles have enough firepower to run right through them. Rosenthal doesn't see it. 24-20, Eagles.
This is a fascinating game, even with Dallas planning to start Cooper Rush. The Cowboys’ pass rush has grown in diversity and depth. Their secondary is cohesive and communicates, changing snap to snap. But can the 'Boys hold up if the Eagles try to run straight through them? I respect what the Cowboys are accomplishing too much to not have them at least keeping games within a score, regardless of the opponent, but Rush gets closer each week to making a few killer mistakes. [NFL.com]
• Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: A game of the week, and if they can run the ball to negate Dallas' pass rush, an Eagles win.
This is one of the best games this week. The Cowboys defense against the Eagles offense will be what decides this. The Cowboys pass rush is fierce, but the Eagles can run the ball to negate it and Jalen Hurts can move. This could be Dak Prescott back for Dallas, but Cooper Rush has played well if he isn't. Even so, the Eagles at home are the pick.
Pick: Eagles 27, Cowboys 20. [CBS Sports]
• ProFootballTalk: A split decision over at PFT.
MDS’s take: This looked like a good game before the season, but it looks like a great game now. The Eagles will earn a hard-fought win and put themselves in prime position to walk away with the NFC East.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 27, Cowboys 20.
Florio’s take: This one could go either way. The defense gives the Cowboys a slight edge.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 20, Eagles 19. [PFT]
• Sheil Kapadia, The Ringer: Kapadia sees two extremes. The first is the Eagles' offensive hits on big plays and goes off against Dallas. The other is the Cowboys getting consistent pressure on Hurts, forcing him to commit turnovers, and managing the upset.
Maybe it doesn't fully apply to football predictions, but as the saying goes, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Eagles win a close one.
With the game tied at 17 last week, the Eagles put together a 17-play, 70-yard drive against the Cardinals and kicked what turned out to be the game-winning field goal. They moved from their own 25 to the Arizona 34 without passing the ball. Instead, they used eight straight runs. The drive reinforced the notion that an elite offensive line is at the heart of the Eagles’ 5-0 start.
The Cowboys defense, meanwhile, continues to dominate. Dallas has not allowed more than 19 points in a game this season, and they’ve faced good quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, and Matthew Stafford during that stretch. The idea that Cooper Rush is the reason for the Cowboys’ success is off base. Don’t get me wrong, Rush has performed admirably—especially for a backup. But in the last four weeks with Rush as the starter, the Cowboys offense ranks 18th in EPA per drive and 26th in success rate. Rush has made some excellent throws in high-leverage situations, but mostly he’s being asked not to lose the game, and he hasn’t.
There’s a scenario here in which the Eagles offense hits on explosive plays, and they steamroll the Cowboys. There’s another scenario in which Dallas forces turnovers, consistently pressures Jalen Hurts, and pulls off the upset. I’m picking something in between: Eagles win, but it comes down to the wire.
The pick: Cowboys (+6) [The Ringer]
• Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Hurts is going to be the difference-maker. Try telling yourself from two years ago that.
Dallas has two major injury questions starting with Prescott (thumb). Will he return in place of Rush, who hasn't lost as the starter? Micah Parsons also is dealing with a groin injury but should be able to play. Both teams get after the quarterback. Dallas has 20 sacks, but Philadelphia isn't that far behind with 17. Hurts makes the game-changing plays in the second half, and the Eagles end Dallas' winning streak at four games.
Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 24 [The Sporting News]
• Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: And why they cover the spread too.
The Eagles' offense is a bit up-and-down with the traditional running and downfield passing game in relation to Jalen Hurts. But Hurts extending plays and spreading the ball around will serve them well here. The Cowboys will have trouble running effectively, which will put either Cooper Rush or Dak Prescott in a tough spot against the Eagles' pass rush while Darius Slay contains CeeDee Lamb.
Eagles win 24-17 and cover the spread. [The Sporting News]
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