The NFL is serving up a great slate of games to go alongside with your Thanksgiving turkey and that includes the showstopper, the divisional match-up between the (8-3) Philadelphia Eagles and (8-3) Dallas Cowboys (4:25pm EST, Thursday).
There are so many storylines leading up to this game that it wouldn’t do justice to try to explain them all in one article. There is the fact that the winner of this game will take the lead in the NFC East and will have a good shot at maintaining that lead until the end of the season. Also, this is a rivalry game, one of the more prevalent in the NFL these days. To top it all off, this will be the first time this season that Dallas and Philly meet, with the second and final time coming in two weeks time.
A Trip Down Memory Lane, Thanksgiving 1989
In 1989, a gallon of gas cost roughly 97 cents, Nintendo released the GameBoy and George Bush Sr. was elected president. It was also the year that the Eagles and Cowboys played two very highly contested games that are now known as Bounty Bowl I and II.
The first Bounty Bowl came the last time these two teams met in a Thanksgiving game back in 1989. Following the game, which marked the first time the Eagles had ever shut out Dallas, Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson alleged that Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan, had put a bounty out on kicker Luis Zendejas, a former Eagle, and Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman.
Ryan of course denied the allegations but that didn’t do anything to dissipate the tension that was felt by both teams and that manifested two weeks later in the rematch.
This time at Veterans Stadium, the game was attended by league commissioner Paul Tagliabue and was a media frenzy. Everyone anticipated a heated showdown and as such, the game was pre-labeled as Bounty Bowl II.
While no specific players were targeted, the game did mark the rivalry between fans, reaching its pinnacle. Those in attendance mercilessly pelted Johnson, the line judges and a few players on the Cowboys sideline with snowballs. Anyone in reach was fair game and it resulted in Philly fans receiving a bad reputation, especially amongst the Cowboys organization and their fans.
The Eagles and Cowboys continued to meet twice a year as per the parameters of their division. Philly was absent from Thanksgiving games until 2008 following the incidents of 1989. This season marks the first time since the Bounty Bowl, that these two teams will meet in a Thanksgiving game.
The Dallas Cowboys are Most Thankful for…
DeMarco Murray and the Offensive Line
Not since Emmitt Smith, have the Cowboys had the level of running dominance that DeMarco Murray (pictured) is showing this year. The 26-year-old opened the season with an NFL record eight straight games with at least 100 rushing yards. He has surpassed that mark in all but one game this season and is averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry. His 1,354 yards is highest among all players and his seven touchdowns are third best among running backs.
In a lot of ways Murray’s success is unprecedented but it would be remiss not to mention the line that has allowed him to have such an incredible season. Finally healthy, the Cowboys line went from being one of the worst last year to a standout front-seven that has given Murray every opportunity to find the hole and do what he does best.
Near the bottom of the pack in opponents’ passing yards, look for the Eagles to focus on stopping the run as much as possible. Although, this was the same strategy the New York Giants took last week and while it worked in the first half with only one of Murray’s 12 carries going for 10+ yards, the Dallas back still finished with 121 yards on the day. Stopping Murray is easier said than done.
The Philadelphia Eagles are Most Thankful for…
The Ingenious Coaching of Chip Kelly
Play calls that have signs with pictures of Rocky, the Phillie Phanatic or Donald Duck, an in-between game clock to measure how much time the team takes between plays, specialized protein shakes tailored to each individual player.
All of that and more is what Chip Kelly has brought from college to the NFL and the Eagles. Kelly is revolutionary in his play-calling and his methods. Sometimes he is questioned for calls but most of the time he is praised. One media analyst even recently said that Kelly, just in his second year in the NFL, is rapidly nearing toward the category of the coaching elite.
Kelly has been a breath of fresh air for the Eagles. It is a year where the team has lost its starting QB, had injuries to every member of its offensive line as well as a few key defensemen, decided to part with a key part of the passing game and has struggled in the running game. Yet Kelly has somehow managed to have this team at an 8-3 record and on the precipice of capturing their second straight NFC East title.
Without Kelly, the Eagles would be lost. He is the reason why this team has come so far and why they can continue to get even better as the years go by.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Betting Picks
It is all set for the biggest NFC East matchup of the year. Both the Cowboys and Eagles have been dominant this year, recording unexpected wins and re-establishing the NFC East as a top division in football. Against each other, the history is real and it will motivate these games even if the players deny it.
The Eagles have a much-improved special teams unit and a pass rush that has come into its own the past few weeks behind Connor Barwin. The Cowboys have a QB who is proving he can be elite and a running back who is already there.
- The Cowboys are -3pts favorites and that could simply be because they are at home. Take the Eagles +3pts on the spread @ best odds of +110 with Bovada (5Dimes are +105 and Betonline are +100).
- On the total points for the game, bet over 54.5pts with BetOnline or 5Dimes Sportsbook (Bovada are -105 for over 55.5pts). It may sound high but with the Eagles averaging 31.1 PPG and the Cowboys at 26.5, a shootout is likely.