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What: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
When: Sunday Night Football, October 20 at 8:20 pm ET
Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
How (TV): NBC
Latest point spread: Eagles +2.5, Cowboys -2.5
What an exciting Sunday Night Football matchup we have here to determine “who’s the boss?” in the NFC East, the contenders being the 3-3 Philadelphia Eagles, who got spanked by the Minnesota Vikings by two-and-a-half touchdowns in Week 6 and the 3-3 Dallas Cowboys, who are coming off an extremely disappointing (okay, kinda embarrassing) loss to the New York Jets.
The Eagles were supposed to be the divisional favorites but right now at .500 they are fighting for their lives, and the talented Cowboys are so much better than their 3-3 record would indicate but they can’t seem to convert decent on-field production into wins these last three weeks.
This one is to set the record straight as to which team’s on top of the NFC East, so here we take a quick look at how both have set themselves up for Week 7.
The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t do so well last week when they let the Minnesota Vikings play all over them with well over 100 yards of rushing and 4 passing touchdowns by Kirk Cousins, Philly’s defense struggling to keep their opponents from scoring in the fourth quarter.
The good news for Philadelphia is Carson Wentz is still healthy and has been playing extremely well under center (131-of-213 for 1,458 yards and 12 touchdowns with 3 interceptions) so offensively they are sitting solid right now, something that will come in handy against this Cowboys team that’s let three games slip through their hands lately.
The Eagles defense has to step up here – they’ve been middle of the road on getting after opposing quarterbacks with 14 total sacks (T-14th overall) – and Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett need to make Dak Prescott uncomfortable in the collapsing pocket and Ezekiel Elliott frustrated with the lack of holes.
Before three weeks ago, this Dallas Cowboy’s team was undefeated and solid on all three sides of the ball and most experts agreed they were not only heading to the postseason, but perhaps to the Super Bowl for the NFC, but in Week 7 they sit at .5oo and fans are bewildered as to why.
The Cowboys haven’t scored a first-half touchdown in the last three weeks and they’ve lost three games – they even lost last week to the until then winless New York Jets, for the love of Jerry – so head coach Jason “on the hot seat” Garrett has to figure out how to game plan some earlier scores.
The biggest problem for Dallas right now is the injured front line (Zack Martin and Tyron Smith are listed as questionable, see below), because if those men can’t keep Dak safe or open up holes for Zeke, this Cowboys team has no serious chance of winning against the Eagles on Sunday.
These two divisional rivals have met 120 total times (including 4 postseason games), with Dallas winning 68 of those times and Philadelphia winning the other 52 games.
Last season, the Eagles won both matchups against the Cowboys, the first one in November by a score of 27-20 and the second time in December (and in overtime) by a score of 29-23.
If the Eagles win this matchup, they’ll move to 4-3-0 and be in the first place of the NFC East, where they were predicted to be all along.
But if the Cowboys come out winners in this one, they’ll be the ones who go 4-3-0 and end their horrible three-game losing streak, now ruling the NFC East by at least a game.
Who’s favored to win this Week 7 Eagles-Cowboys matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Eagles and the Cowboys next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Passing attack: The Philadelphia Eagles have the 16th ranked passing offense in the league right now, averaging 238.2 yards per game through the air after six weeks.
Quarterback Carson Wentz is currently ranked the 15th most productive passer in the league having completed 131-of-214 passes for 1,458 yards and 12 touchdowns with 3 interceptions and a completion percentage of 61.2.
The Eagles’ leading receiver after six weeks is tight end Zach Ertz, who is currently 30th in the league with 33 catches for 366 yards and 1 touchdown.
Rushing attack: The Eagles’ rushing attack is ranked 15th in the NFL after averaging 111.2 yards on the ground per game.
Jordan Howard is the Eagles’ best runner and he is currently the 20th best in the NFL with 66 carries for 297 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Philadelphia has scored 161 total points this season, or 26.8 per game, which is the 8th best total in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 7: running back Darren Sproles (quadriceps), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen).
Injury notes: offensive tackle Jason Peters (knee) is listed as doubtful while running back Corey Clement (shoulder), offensive tackle Jordan Mailata (back) and tight end Alex Ellis (knee) have been placed on injured reserve.
Passing attack: Dallas has the 3rd best passing attack in the league right now after averaging 305.0 yards through the air each game.
The Cowboys’ best receiver is currently Amari Cooper, who has caught 33 passes for 515 yards with 5 touchdowns in six weeks, ranked 5th among NFL receivers right now.
Rushing attack: Dallas has the 7th ranked rushing attack, so far averaging 138.8 yards on the ground per game.
Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys’ best runner and now he is the 6th most productive in the NFL with 113 carries for 491 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
Dallas has scored 153 points in 2019, averaging 25.5 per game, which is the 9th highest scoring average in the NFL right now.
Listed as questionable for Week 7: offensive tackle Tyron Smith (ankle), wide receivers Randall Cobb (back), Amari Cooper (ankle) and Michael Gallup (knee – Meniscus), offensive tackles La’el Collins (knee – MCL) and Tyron Smith (ankle) and offensive guard Zack Martin (back).
Injury notes: wide receiver Noah Brown (knee) is listed as PUP-R, while wide receivers Jon’Vea Johnson (shoulder) and Lance Lenoir (knee) and guards Connor McGovern (pectoral) and Cody Wichmann (calf) have been placed on injured reserve.
The Cowboys are playing way better on both the ground and through the air than the Eagles are, so they will have a definite advantage on Sunday.
Pass coverage: The Eagles have the 29th best pass defense in 2019 so far (or fourth worst), allowing opponents to throw for 280.2 yards through the air per game.
Philadelphia’s defense has 7 team picks and they have 14 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Eagles are the 2nd best NFL team against the run right now after allowing opponents to run for 72.8 yards per game.
Philadelphia has allowed its opponents to score 149 total points, or 24.8 per game, which is 23rd lowest in the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a free safety named Rodney McLeod who knows how to tackle – he has 35 of them so far, plus an interception and 4 passes defended – so check him out on Sunday.
If you want to see Dak Prescott get sacked, keep your eyes on Eagles’ defensive end Brandon Graham, who already has 4 sacks, a recovered fumble and 20 tackles posted this season.
Philadelphia linebacker Nate Gerry has the most interceptions of al the Eagles right now with 2 of them (one of them went for a 51-yard touchdown, by the by), plus 4 passes defended and 13 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 7: defensive tackles Fletcher Cox (illness) and Tim Jernigan (foot), linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle) and cornerbacks Ronald Darby (hamstring) and Avonte Maddox (concussion).
Injury notes: cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) is listed as PUP-R, cornerback Avonte Maddux (concussion) is listed as doubtful, while cornerback Cre’ von LeBlanc (foot), defensive tackle Malik Jackson (foot) and defensive end Joe Ostman (knee-ACL) have all been placed on injured reserve.
Pass coverage: The Cowboys’ defense is 12th best against the pass, allowing their opponents to throw for an average of 238.0 yards per matchup.
Dallas’s defense has 2 interceptions on opposing quarterbacks and they have 14 total sacks after six weeks.
Run coverage: The Cowboys are 12th best against a rushing attack, allowing opponents to run for an average of 93.8 yards per game.
Dallas has allowed their opponents to score 114 total points this season, or 19 per matchup, which is 8th fewest in the NFL.
Look for the guy in the Cowboys’ secondary who is wearing the Count Chocula looking vampire collar – that’s Leighton Vander Esch, the outside linebacker with 51 total tackles so far, a quarterback hit, half a sack and a forced fumble to his NFL name right now.
Defensive end Robert Quinn is standing out in Dallas, so far with 5 sacks (tied for 8th most in the league), 6 quarterback hits and 9 total tackles (5 for loss).
Dallas has a cornerback worth watching, and that’s Chidobe Awuzie (say it again!) who has an interception, 7 passes defended, a recovered fumble and 28 total tackles in 2019.
Listed as questionable for Week 7: defensive end Dorance Armstrong (neck) and cornerbacks Anthony Brown (hamstring) and Byron Jones (hamstring).
Injury notes: defensive end Randy Gregory (suspension) is listed as OUT, while defensive end Jalen Jelks (undisclosed), defensive tackles Daniel Ross (shoulder) and Tyrone Crawford (hip), cornerback Chris Westry (undisclosed) and safety Kavon Frazier (pectoral) have been placed on injured reserve.
Both of these defenses are pretty banged up, but the Dallas Cowboys have the defensive advantage of the two in every category except against the run game, where the Eagles rule.
Philadelphia’s punter, Cameron Johnston, has been with the Eagles since the 2018 season, and this year he has punted 22 times for a net average of 44.3 yards per punt, 7th best in the NFL.
Dallas’ veteran punter, Chris Jones, is in his ninth NFL season, all with the Cowboys, and this year he has punted 19 times for a net average of 38.7 yards per punt, which was the 34th best in the league.
Philadelphia’s placekicker, Jake Elliott, is in his third NFL season, all with the Eagles.
Elliott has made 7-of-7 field goals this year, his longest a 53-yarder, and he has missed zero extra point attempts (16/16).
Dallas’ placekicker, Brett Maher, is in his second NFL season, both with the Cowboys.
Maher has made 7-of-11 field goals in 2019, his longest a 62 yarder, and so far, he has missed no extra point attempts (18/18).
Philadelphia’s punt returner, running back Darren Sproles, is ranked 17th in the league in return average.
Sproles has returned 9 punts for 84 yards, averaging 9.3 yards per return, his longest for 17 yards.
Dallas’ main punt returner, wide receiver Tavon Austin, is in his seventh NFL season, his second with the Cowboys.
Austin has returned 6 punts for 26 yards and 0 touchdowns this year, averaging 4.3 yards per return.
Philadelphia is better across the board on special teams, so they have the advantage there in that category, but if a 60+ field goal is required to win the game, put your money on Dallas’ man.
Despite head coach Doug Pederson’s odd “we’re gonna win” claim followed by his “I never said guarantee a win” comment, the Philadelphia Eagles are definitely set up to beat a
spiraling Dallas Cowboys team coming off their third straight loss.
The Eagles defensive line has to take advantage of the battered Dallas offensive front line, and if they can (meaning get after Dak Prescott and snuff Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield) then they can definitely win this matchup on Sunday.
Carson Wentz has to play well, of course (which means DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery and tight end Zach Ertz play well, too) and the Eagles’ defense has to figure out the secret to Zeke if they expect to come out on top in this one.
The Cowboys have been suffering and losing for no specific reason these last three weeks (come on, Dallas defense, step up!), so this game against the Eagles could be a good boost for all of them if they can pull out a divisional win in classic style, meaning slow the pace and ground and pound the ball throughout the game.
Quarterback Dak Prescott must have a big game with his arm if the Cowboys are going to win, and receiver Amari Cooper and he needs to get back to clicking for a score or two (or three) to keep this Eagles’ low-ranked pass defense on their heels.
Also, dual-threat Ezekiel Elliott has to play well on Sunday with at least 100+ total yards and a score on the ground (not to mention through the air), not an easy task against the second-best run defense in the league, but after three losses, this Cowboys team is desperate to win and they will find a way to make that happen.
Dallas Cowboys, since they are the better team and there is no way they can let another one go or their season in the NFC East is absolute toast.
John Breech of CBS Sports predicts the score as Eagles 30, Cowboys 27.
My prediction for the final score is Cowboys 31, Eagles 27.
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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