Last updated December 22nd, 2013
In a game with a lot of meaning and implication, the (3-3) Dallas Cowboys will travel to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the (3-3) Philadelphia Eagles (1pm ET, Sunday).
The winner will hold sole possession of first place in the NFC East as well as an undefeated divisional record. Two evenly matched teams, the Eagles have opened as moneyline favorites with the spread currently favoring them by three points. The over/under is set at 55 and that is a mark that should be easily matched considering the offensive style and intensity with which both teams play.
Same Opponent, Same Results
Remarkably, the Eagles and Cowboys have played a near identical schedule. Dallas’ schedule can be considered easier, albeit slightly. But ironically enough, both the Eagles and Cowboys have already played four of the same teams of which they have the same record against them: 2-3.
The Cowboys and Eagles have both lost to the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos and Kansas Chiefs and have both beaten the division rival Washington Redskins and New York Giants. While this might seem like just a coincidence, it actually offers a very useful barometer that can be used to measure how the outcome might go on Sunday.
In the five “same” games, the Cowboys are outperforming the Eagles ever so slightly.
In the two wins, Dallas has scored 67 points and allowed 47 points. Philadelphia has scored 69 points in their two wins against Washington and New York and has allowed just 48. It should be noted as well that both of Dallas’ winning efforts came at home while Philly’s came on the road, the opposite of which the teams will face on Sunday.
As for the three “same” losses, Dallas has shown to be the better offensive team. All together Dallas has scored 85 points in those three games but they have also allowed their opponents to score a total of 98. Philadelphia has scored just 66 points (19 less than Dallas) in those three games but have still allowed their opponents to score 111, which is 13 more than Dallas.
PHI Nick Foles vs. the 30th Ranked Passing Defense
One of the storylines, not just for this game but for the rest of the season, is going to be based on how sophomore QB Nick Foles handles the offense on Sunday. Michael Vick himself announced that he is still not healthy enough to return so Foles will once again have the opportunity to make a statement and get a statement win. Fortunately enough for him, he will get to do so against the league’s 30th ranked passing defense and one that is likely going to be without their top pass rusher in Demarcus Ware (4 sacks, 19 combined tackles in 2013).
In his only start of the season, last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Foles showed off good decision making skills. It is true that he played against and exploited a subpar defense but ultimately, Foles showed a lot of improvements from what he had done last year. In fact, with six touchdowns in his games (Giants, Buccaneers), Foles has already matched his total from last year.
Against Dallas, Foles should continue to see opportunities to throw the ball downfield, something that comes naturally to him. He is 3-of-4 this season when throwing the ball at least 30 yards down field. More impressively, Foles is 7-of-9 once inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
Foles has been aided of course by Lesean McCoy and the NFL’s best running game but more than that, Desean Jackson’s sudden emergence as a red zone threat is really showing. Foles has found Jackson open on several occasions and because of his speed, the receiver has been able to beat the coverage. Foles has also been successful when looking for Riley Cooper, who unlike Jackson has a decent size advantage which makes him also a good redzone target.
The Cowboys do not have anybody with the speed to cover Jackson nor do they really have anyone with the height to cover Cooper or a guy like Brent Celek. Morris Claiborne, will likely have to play a huge role if Dallas wins the passing portion of this game. And considering how effective McCoy has been in gashing opponents’ run defenses, the Cowboys will need to limit the passing opportunities for the Eagles. Otherwise, it could be a long afternoon.
DAL Tony Romo vs. the 31st Ranked Passing Defense
You can’t talk about Foles facing the 30th ranked passing defense without mentioning the Cowboys, namely QB Tony Romo and his 6’2 receiver, Dez Bryant. In fact, to continue the uncanny similarities between this year’s Philadelphia and Dallas teams, Romo has the edge over Foles, getting to face the league’s 31st best passing defense.
Romo has been having a renaissance season and is really proving to his doubters that he can finally be worthy of the tag, “elite.” On the year, Romo has tossed for over 1,600 yards and 14 TD (2nd in NFL). Romo is also third in the league in both passer rating (108.6) and completion percentage (70.2). At this point last season, Romo had just eight touchdowns but had already thrown nine interceptions. He has just three in 2013.
The Eagles meanwhile, have only been able to create six turnovers on the year when it comes to intercepting the QB. That is a step up from last year but is still a paltry amount when looking at how effective Romo has been and how nearly error-free he has been all season.
Romo’s best asset has once again been Jason Witten but also vitally important has been Bryant. He has a size advantage over most cornerbacks and will have a favorable matchup against the Eagles as well.
Cowboys at Eagles Betting Picks Advice
- The over is going to be the easy pick with this one as both teams lack much in the defensive department but boast top 12 offenses. Take over 55 total points @ odds of -110 with BetOnline. It is -115 for the same spread with Bovada.
- Also, expect the Eagles to get back on the winning side at home. Take Philadelphia to cover the -3 point deficit @ odds of +115 with Bovada (It is +105 with BetOnline) in what should be a high scoring contest between two pass-happy QBs.
RESULT UPDATE: Cowboys won 17-3.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.