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One benefit to winning this Week 18 NFC East matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles is the possibility of that victory improving that team’s playoff seed, so count on QB Dak Prescott and his playmakers to execute whatever game plan HC Mike McCarthy concocts to find the ideal balance between a productive offense and an effective defense.
The Philadelphia Eagles will go into the postseason as a wildcard regardless of the outcome of this game, but a victory here would prove that this squad led by young QB Jalen Hurts is ready to compete and win in the playoffs, the Eagles having clinched after a four-game win streak (they’ve won their last seven out of nine), a team starting to gel on both sides of the ball.
These two NFC East rivals have played each other 125 previous times (including 4 postseason games), with the Philadelphia Eagles winning 54 of those games and the Dallas Cowboys winning 71 of the games.
Blame the injuries the Cowboys dealt with all season for their 7-4 record and inconsistent play at the start of the year, but now after winning four of their last five matchups, Dallas is relatively healthy and its playmakers are begging to sync on both sides of the ball.
Right now the Cowboys have the second-best offense and the 19th best defense, an imbalance that has caused a lot of opponents to get ahead early in their games, the defense allowing the other team to score almost 21 points a game, usually a lot more than that when they lose.
Now the defense is clicking thanks to young stars like DT Osa Odighizuwa and LB Michah Parson and some talented veterans like DE Tarell Basham and CB Anthony Brown, and a true test for them will be stopping the Eagles’ Hurts who can kill you on the ground and in the air.
With just a game left to play, the Eagles pass offense is ranked 22nd in the league and QB Jalen Hurts is doing his best to improve that when he plays, each pro rep he has taken this year adding to his NFL development and it has worked so well his team is now in the playoffs.
HC Nick Sirianni and OC Shane Steichen seem to be figuring out how to better use their second-year QB, with Hurts being one of those newer-styled quarterbacks that can throw on the run and evade tackles with their quickness, this year with 139 carries for 784 yards and 10 TDs.
It takes a while for a guy like Hurts to get used to the pro level, but if he keeps up his development his numbers will improve as well, so far this season with 265 completions for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns with 9 interceptions, a guy who is figuring out how to play in the NFL.
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This Cowboys rookie’s unique name – Micah Parsons – keeps coming up in conversations about defensive rookie of the year, and deservedly so given how quickly he has adapted his game speed to the pro level, becoming a key element to Dallas DC Dan Quinn’s game plan.
It is incredible that a guy 6’ 3” and 245 pounds move as fast as Parsons does, able to get to the ball in a flash and make the open field tackle or sack the quarterback, all contributions that Micah makes every game it seems, fast becoming a fan favorite in Arlington.
This season the rookie Parsons has posted veteran caliber numbers and he certainly deserves some level of MVP recognition, so far with 13 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, 3 forced fumbles, 3 passes defended, and 84 total tackles with a league-leading 20 of those for a loss.
Now in his fourth NFL season, Eagles TE Dallas Goedert is becoming a favorite target of QB Jalen Hurts, the South Dakota State alum a former second-round pick (49th selection overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft spending all of his career so far in Philadelphia.
Goedert has decent tight end size – 6’ 5” and 256 pounds – and the 27-year old has soft enough hands to be more than just a solid blocker, so far this season with 56 receptions off 76 targets for 830 yards and 4 TDs, his contributions growing as he and Hurts get more reps.
Watch for Goedert in the red zone and as a check-down receiver when Hurts is scrambling, the tight end’s height and strong hands giving him the advantage for most jump balls, his ability to earn yards after the catch another bonus for throwing the ball to him.
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|Cowboys vs Eagles Information|
|What||Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles|
|Where||Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA|
|When||Saturday, January 8, 2022; 8:15 PM ET|
|How to watch||ESPN, ABC, ESPN+|
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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