October 18, 2019
The Philadelphia Eagles will play their second division game of the season on Sunday when they travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys in prime time. And if it feels like these two teams meet under the lights quite often, that's because they do.
In fact, they've played at least one primetime game against each other every season since 2007. In those 12 games, the Eagles are 5-7 (5-8 if you count the postseason), but after losing three straight regular season primetime games against the Cowboys from 2007-09, the Birds are actually 5-4 since, including 4-2 in Dallas. Overall, however, the Eagles have lost three straight games to the Cowboys, only two of which were actually meaningful.
Unlike in many of those years, their first matchup of 2019 brings an added level of intrigue as the winner of this game will head into Week 8 in sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Not that Eagles-Cowboys needed any extra drama...
Both teams are at 3-3 and coming off losses, although in the case of the Cowboys, it's three straight losses after starting the season 3-0. Will they drop a fourth straight at the hands of Carson Wentz and the Eagles, or will Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper get back to their winning ways while sending the Birds below .500 again?
Here's everything you need to know for this weekend, including how our writers see the game playing out...
TV: NBC | RADIO: 94.1 WIP
SPREAD: Cowboys (-2.5) | TOTAL: 49.0 (via Bovada)
The Eagles and Cowboys are both coming off bad losses to the Vikings and Jets, respectively. More accurately, the Eagles are coming off a bad loss, while the Cowboys are coming off three bad losses.
Both teams are also quite banged-up. That's nothing new for the Eagles, who are used to playing short-handed. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are coming off a season in 2018 in which they didn't often need to dive into their depth chart. That has changed this season, as both of their starting offensive tackles are now hurt, and they may be without stud WR Amari Cooper, not to mention maybe also two of their top three corners and a starting DT.
It is imperative that the Eagles' pass rush take advantage of a weakened Dallas offensive line, and affect Dak Prescott. I believe they will. I mean, both starting tackles could be out! If so, how is Dallas favored by 3?
I wrote an entire song and dance here prior to the Cowboys injury report coming out Friday afternoon, explaining how the Eagles weak secondary was about to get a break against a Dallas offense without not only its top wide receivers but also two of its top offensive lineman. But then reports came out that Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins were all likely to suit up Sunday night.
That changes things. It'll be a dogfight Sunday, with newly returning Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby more or less the X factors in the Week 7 battle. Without DeSean Jackson yet again, Carson Wentz will need to find a way to make the Eagles dynamic on offense while one of the top rushing defenses in football will have its hands full against Ezekiel Elliott. I still see the Birds as the better team, and I think they'll win by a hair.
Last week, when I correctly predicted the Vikings would beat the Eagles because Diggs and Thielen would run all over the Birds secondary, I also kind of locked in my prediction for this week. Here's what I wrote:
I think the Eagles go 1-1 over their next two games, so a loss on Sunday just means a win over the Cowboys the following week.
Kind of painted myself into a corner there, didn't I? Not so fast.
When I originally wrote my prediction for this Sunday, it was looking like Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, two of their top CBs and both offensive tackles were all looking like they could be ruled out for Sunday. And that — especially the absence of Cooper — seemed like enough for me to stick to my guns and pick the Birds. I was all ready, and even had a final score (31-26, Eagles).
Here's what I was thinking:
That's fine, because there are plenty of reasons to think the Eagles can bounce back with a win this week. First, the Cowboys could be without both of their tackles, which will help their struggling pass rush as well as their already dominant run defense. And if the pass rush can get going, that will help their secondary, which has been a mess this season but could be getting a boost this week with potential returns of Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, not to mention that Amari Cooper, who torched the Birds for 217 yards and three touchdowns the last time these two met, might not play — and if he does, he almost certainly won't be at 100 percent. Oh, and Jason Garrett is still their coach. That sounds like a recipe for an Eagles victory.
Then the injury report came out. And, well, it's not good for the Eagles.
The Dallas Cowboys’ injury situation has improved greatly from Wednesday. According to multiple sources, the Cowboys will have offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb and cornerback Byron Jones... https://t.co/K6gUYy4k5C— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) October 18, 2019
Sure, the Eagles can still pull off a win in Dallas on Sunday, but I just can't see them being able to stop Cooper and Co. unless Cooper is limited by his injury. With Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield — and no Nigel Bradham for the defense — they won't exactly be able to give a lot of help to the secondary without risking a big play on the ground. I think the Eagles will be able to score — that hasn't been a problem for them all season — but it's a matter of whether or not their able to stop Dallas from scoring, and after last week's performance against the Vikings, it's hard to have a lot of faith in them.
In a battle of two division rivals who haven’t been as good as anyone thought they may be through six weeks, I might have taken Dallas if all things were equal. I don’t trust the Philadelphia defense even a little bit at this point, and in a night game on the road, that certainly doesn’t change.
But the Cowboys are pretty banged up, opening the door for an Eagles victory on the road. Both of their starting tackles, two of their best receivers (including Amari Cooper), and two of their top corners have all missed practice this week.
What's that you say? Almost every single one of Dallas' injured players has been declared okay to go on Sunday? Hmm. Well, let's not let anything I previously said impact the prediction here.
At this point, I’m just betting on the law of averages to tilt in Philadelphia’s direction. A receiver will make a big play for Carson Wentz eventually, right?
Neither team is playing well. The Cowboys actually need this game more than the Eagles, since Dallas started the season 3-0 and have lost its last three games. The Cowboys were going to be without starting offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins. Now they're not. Compounding matters, it looks like leading receiver Amari Cooper, who suffered a quad injury on the second play of the game against the Jets last week, will also play against the Eagles. It means more misery for the flagging the Eagles.
Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott is 3-0 with six TDs (5 pass, 1 rush) in his last three games against the Eagles—and Carson Wentz is 2-3 against the Cowboys lifetime. Prescott is 4-2 in six career starts against the Eagles. The Cowboys won the last three vs. the Eagles.
A quasi-healthy Dallas team simply has too much for the ailing Eagles and their dubious secondary.
I've been waiting all season for this game! The cornerback situation still has me concerned with the Eagles, but I do believe Carson Wentz is going to do everything in his power this week to not lose this game. With Amari Cooper not being as strong, even if he does play, I'm optimistic Jim Schwartz will make the proper adjustments to ensure he's shut down. Also, Dak Prescott has been exposed in recent weeks. With the proper pressure, the Eagles can expose him too. I think this could be a close one.
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