The day of reckoning is near. The NFC Least will effectively be decided by Sunday’s rematch between the Eagles and Cowboys in Philadelphia. Both teams come into play at 7-7, and Dallas is favored by 1.5 at the time of this writing (according to whoever the espn app uses for betting lines).
Plenty has been made about how deserving either of these teams would be to host a home playoff game against a team with a far superior record, but that’s not relevant here. Win the division and you have a chance.
The mediocre season that both of these teams are currently having can be salvaged with a win. This game will likely have a pretty big ripple effect on what happens with these teams going forward, but primarily for Dallas. Jason Garrett is coaching for his job and Dak Prescott is playing for a massive payday.
I’m going to put on my Cris Collinsworth hat and try to break down this game.
Dallas has the better roster. Even as an Eagles homer, this is clear. There are really no holes on the Cowboys’ offense in terms of personnel. Dak is a good, not quite great quarterback who is surrounded by very good skill players and protected by a fantastic offensive line. In order for the Eagles to win, the secondary has to be better. If they play like they did in the New England and Seattle games, the birds have a great chance to win. Amari Cooper had his way with the Eagles defense in the first meeting, which resulted in a lopsided defeat for the Eagles. The Eagles have allowed at least 1 receiver to run wild in each of the last three games. Cooper is better than each of those three receivers (DeVante Parker, Darius Slayton, Terry McLaurin). Slowing him down is far easier said than done, but could be the key to winning this game.
When on offense, the Eagles have to rely heavily once again on Carson Wentz. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott have to be a big part of the offensive game plan in order to take some of the pressure off of Wentz. Both of these young running backs have given the Eagles a huge boost in the last two weeks.
In the final drive last week against Washington, wide receiver Greg Ward was clutch. Anything that Carson can get from his receivers will go a long way.
Eagles ability (or inability) to contain Amari Cooper: If the first meeting, or either of the last 3 weeks are an indication, that is bad news for the good guys. It’s time for Jim Schwartz to earn his damn salary for this year. Why not this week? This will not be a 1-man task. Schwartz’s job may very well be on the line in this game.
Greg Ward: If Ward can build off of his performance from that final drive last week, Wentz will have a viable option, especially on 3rd down. Three-and-outs have been an issue for the Eagles at times, and a reliable possession receiver will be a huge help.
I’m obviously biased, and can’t possibly bring myself to picking the Cowboys. I’m going to take the Eagles to win 30-27. I can’t say I’m confident.