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December 29, 2017

Week 17 NFL predictions: Rounding up the experts' picks for Eagles-Cowboys

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When the schedule for the 2017 NFL season first came out, many people had Sunday's matchup between the Eagles and the Cowboys circled as a potential game with major playoff implications. 

Now, just a couple of days before kickoff, it's one of the most meaningless games of Week 17 – not unlike the teams' 2016 regular season finale. This time around, however, it's the Eagles who will be going on to the playoffs after winning the NFC East, while the rival Cowboys will be forced to watch them from home. 

Despite already having home field advantage locked up, Doug Pederson said Friday that his starters are going to play on Sunday, although he wouldn't say how long that's going to be for. And that makes this game harder to predict than it already is. 

But that won't stop us from taking a look around at who the local and national media are picking...

•  Jimmy Kempski, PhillyVoice: Cowboys 24, Eagles 20

The Eagles are a little banged up defensively, so my guess would be that they'll hold out a number of their starters on defense, while continuing to get Nick Foles reps to prepare for the playoffs. The Cowboys have nothing to play for, but they'll be a full go, so they'll mess up their draft position.

•  ESPN staff: Six of their eight experts are picking the Cowboys. Two didn't make any picks this week.

•  Tim McManus, Cowboys 24, Eagles 17

Nick Foles and the majority of the Eagles starters are expected to play for part of this game, but they likely will give way to the backups at some point. Former sixth-round pick Nate Sudfeld should see his first action as a pro, and while the coaching staff is high on the quarterback, it could be tough sledding against Dallas' first team.

•  Todd Archer, Eagles 22, Cowboys 17

Even though there is nothing on the line, the Cowboys will go with their regulars, which means a steady dose of Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence and Sean Lee. The Cowboys lost the first meeting 37-9 without Elliott (suspension) and Lee (injury), but how much will it matter? Elliott needs 120 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and the Eagles have been vulnerable to the run over the past month, giving up 105.5 yards per game. Elliott might get his 120 yards, but the Cowboys won’t be able to make enough big plays to score points, which has been an issue most of the season.

•  Elliot Harrison, Cowboys 20, Eagles 17

When Ezekiel Elliott doesn't get the ball in goal-to-go situations, it's like those times on "Saved by the Bell" when the writers tried to have Screech carry a show. You might not have been into Zack Attack's frosted tips, but he was THE GUY. Zack got the girl. Put another way: Stop trying to pass it to Jessie and Lisa -- just give the damn ball to Kelly Kapowski. Why is Dallas trying to throw touchdown passes to Terrance Williams on first-and-goal from the 3. Feed Zeke. The Raiders just ran right through the Eagles' front. 

• staff: All but one of their eight experts are picking the Cowboys to beat the Eagles, both straight-up and against the spread.

•  FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver's computers are quite high on the Eagles, giving them a 77 percent chance of winning and listing them as an 8.5-point favorite.

•  OddsShark: They're predicting a 21-17 victory for the Birds.

•  Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Cowboys 20, Eagles 17

Has a game between these two rivals ever been less meaningful?

•  Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Cowboys 23, Eagles 20

Neither team has anything to play for, as the Eagles have clinched home-field advantage while the Cowboys are out of contention. I think the Eagles will rest starters while the Cowboys play to win.

•  Chris Simms, Bleacher Report: Eagles 17, Cowboys 14

This is yet another game between teams with nothing to play for. The Cowboys are out of the playoff mix after losing to the Seattle Seahawks last week. The Eagles are locked into the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Of the two, I expect Philadelphia to come out with more of a fighting spirit...

The Cowboys may play their starters as well, but that may not matter. I think after last week's loss, Dallas is ready to pack it in.

•  SBNation staff It's an even split over at SBNation, with four writers taking the Birds and four taking the 'Boys.

• staff: I've apparently used up my 10 free articles for the month, so you'll have to check their predictions out for yourself.

• staff: Three are picking the Eagles to cover, while three others are picking the Cowboys. [NOTE: These picks were against the spread]

  The Eagles Wire staff: Just two of their six writers are picking the Birds, including Turron Davenport, who thinks the Eagles win 24-21:

The Eagles will have a chance to win 14 games for the first time in franchise history. That is something that is clearly on the minds of players such as Malcolm Jenkins, Jason Kelce, Nick Foles and LeGarrette Blount. Doug Pederson should play the starters and give the team a shot to do something special despite having the top seed in the NFC secured already.

•  David Steele, Sporting News: Eagles 20, Cowboys 16

The way the Cowboys exited so meekly from playoff contention last week could play into how they come out in a meaningless game against a rival with nothing for which to play. The Eagles do need to get much sharper than they looked against the Raiders, so there might not be as much resting of starters as expected, especially with a bye coming.

•  Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Cowboys 20, Eagles 17

In Week 17 last season, it was the Cowboys resting up as the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Now it’s the Eagles’ turn, and they won’t care if it means splitting with their East rivals. The Eagles need to worry about rebooting for the divisional playoff after two tough games.

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