First place in the NFC East is on the line today when the (3-3) Philadelphia Eagles head to AT&T Stadium to take on the (3-3) Dallas Cowboys (8:20 PM ET Sunday).
To say that their respective seasons have not quite gone as planned is an understatement as both teams have faced struggles in unexpected places. Entering the year, Philadelphia and Dallas were seen as strong contending teams with not out of the realm of possibility odds that they could win a Super Bowl. After the first three games, Dallas was looking more and more the part of a future championship team. As it would turn out however, this may have just been fool’s gold.
Cowboys: From 3-0 to 3-3
The Cowboys opened their season at home against the New York Giants and Dak Prescott dazzled, posting a perfect quarterback rating, throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. Dallas won the game by a final score of 35-17. The following week, it was more of the same. Prescott played great, Ezekiel Elliott topped 100 yards for the first time in the season, and the Cowboys won 31-21.
In week three, Dallas won again, 31-6, absolutely destroying the Miami Dolphins. Three weeks, three wins. Seems great, but the problem was, those three opponents have a combined three wins between them and that’s current to entering week seven of the NFL season. In week four, the Cowboys played the New Orleans Saints, a team that is now 5-1 despite losing their starting quarterback a few weeks ago. Dallas lost. Against the 5-1 Green Bay Packers in week five, the Cowboys lost, despite Prescott throwing for 463 yards. He also had three interceptions, which proved costly against Green Bay’s stellar defensive efforts.
The real kicker for the Cowboys was last week against the New York Jets, a team that entered their meeting against Dallas with an 0-4 record. The Jets have not been a good team this year but part of that is due to losing their quarterback, Sam Darnold, to mono for several weeks. Against Dallas, Darnold returned and led his team to victory. It was an absolute head scratcher for Dallas, one that stunned Cowboys fans to silence. The Jets led 21-9 after three quarters and while Dallas did make a valiant comeback effort in the fourth, it wasn’t enough to prevent the then-winless Jets from picking up their first victory.
Just like that, the once promising season for the Cowboys melted into a 3-3 record that has many questioning how much longer head coach Jason Garrett’s job will be safe. A fourth straight loss, and to the hated divisional rival Eagles, in Dallas, might be the game that does it.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, a different story to 3-3 was unfolding, one told by injuries, inconsistencies and perhaps some locker room chemistry issues.
Eagles Not Quite Back under Carson Wentz
Over the last few years, much has been said about Carson Wentz and not a lot of it positive. After getting off to what could have been an MVP season, Wentz got injured near the end of the season. It was up to backup Nick Foles to lead the Eagles on a magical run to their first Super Bowl championship. Wentz had missed time the year prior as well, just two games though, compared to four in 2017. Then, the following year, it was like a case of déjà vu. Foles started to season allowing Wentz a few extra weeks of recovery. Then, toward the end of the season, once again, this time due to a different injury, Wentz was shut down, leaving the responsibility of getting into the postseason and winning in it to Foles. There was no denying the way the Eagles players rallied around the backup quarterback, citing his impressive leadership.
Foles played the position of quarterback under an Eagles locker room united around him and completely supporting him. The same can’t be said about Wentz, who has seen more than one “anonymous” report come out questioning either his leadership or his ability or both. Through it all, Wentz has remained unfettered at least in his comments and his actions. His season has not been without its missteps on the field and whether he alone is responsible for the 3-3 record, he is certainly the one who has had to shoulder much of the blame.
Philadelphia opened their season the way they wanted to, with a victory against the rival Redskins. Perhaps it was not in the manner they wanted to as the Eagles needed to overcome a 17-point deficit and 20-7 halftime score to come out on top. Considered very much to be a second half team, falling behind didn’t do the Eagles any favors the following week when they faced the Atlanta Falcons. It was a game Philadelphia never should have struggled in but they did as the Eagles couldn’t get their offense going and failed to convert on a final two-minute drill. This gave the Falcons, now 1-5, their only win of the season. A second loss followed when the Eagles hosted the Detroit Lions in week three. Coming within a field goal of being able to tie up the game, the Eagles were unable even to get into position to kick said field goal, despite having just over four minutes left of game time after they scored the touchdown.
The seesaw season began to turn in week five when the Eagles pulled off a stunning upset victory over the Packers, one that was at least in part aided by an injury to Devante Adams. He had absolutely torched the Philadelphia secondary before he was forced out of the game. A win is a win and the Eagles rode that momentum to a demolition of the Jets the following week. This led into a showdown with the Minnesota Vikings, one that marked Philly’s first return to the state since winning the Super Bowl there two years prior. That was two years ago and the teams look vastly different since then. Kirk Cousins continued his reputation of killing the Eagles, leading the Vikings to a definitive 38-20 victory.
So while Philadelphia’s journey to 3-3 wasn’t as dramatic a fall as Dallas’ has been, the record is concerning nonetheless. In a division where 9-7 might be enough to make the playoffs, and one that feels like a two horse race right now, this first Philly/Dallas game holds critical importance. Especially for the Eagles, who are entering into a brutal stretch of the season, the most difficult in the NFL, with games against the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks all on the near horizon.
Our Betting Preview’s Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys Predictions & Picks Verdict
The Eagles and Cowboys have good rosters, that’s not in question but the teams have struggled. On defense, Philadelphia will welcome the return of Jalen Mills, but most importantly on offense, the return of DeSean Jackson, who totaled over 100 receiving yards including two huge down field catches in week one.
Jackson has been absent since and it’s clear how the offense has been affected by him missing time. Dallas on the other hand, is still playing hurt as it is uncertain if either or both of Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, two of their top receivers, will suit up for the game.
That all said, the Eagles seem in a better position to win this one. Their secondary hasn’t been great but if Dallas’ top two guys miss or are hampered by injuries that certainly takes the pressure off that unit. On the ground, it will allow them to focus on stopping Elliott, something Philadelphia has done to some success over the years. Then there is the return of Jackson. That might be the biggest reason we’re taking Philadelphia. So our recommended Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys predictions are: