PHILADELPHIA (CBSDFW.com)- It all comes down to this. The Dallas Cowboys can win the NFC East division this Sunday with a win over their rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. Making the potential victory more sweet? The Cowboys will play in Philly, meaning they have the chance to spoil quite a few Eagles’ fans holidays by eliminating them from the playoffs.
However, if the Eagles win this week, all that stands between them and the NFC East crown is a victory over the hapless New York Giants in Week 17. Nothing like adding pressure to the already high stakes of any Eagles-Cowboys game right?
The first time these two teams met this season, it was barely a contest. The Cowboys offense exploded for 37 points and the game was over by halftime when Dallas held a 27-7 lead. The Eagles mustered just 283 yards of total offense. Unlike their preparation for this Sunday, the Eagles actually had most of their offensive weapons in that game. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor both started at wide receiver, and Jordan Howard got the lion’s share of the carries in the backfield. Now, Jeffery is done for the year, Howard has missed the last five games, and Agholor’s status remains uncertain.
But, the Eagles offense has looked better the last two weeks against the Giants and Redskins. Carson Wentz has seemingly developed chemistry with former practice squad receiver Greg Ward Jr., and Miles Sanders has erupted in both the run and pass games.
However, the biggest bugaboo from the first meeting remains. The Eagles can’t seem to cover anyone.
Last week, it was Washington’s Terry McLaurin going off for over 100 yards for the second time this season against the Birds. The week before? It was Giants receiver Darius Slayton, who had five receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Eagles have allowed 10 100-yard games from receivers this season.
The Eagles have given up 100+ yards to a receiver 10 times this season: pic.twitter.com/VxotE3tdtV
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) December 18, 2019
One of those 100-yard games was from Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper who, while he didn’t score in the first meeting, seemed to get wherever he wanted to on the field. Cooper will face mostly the same secondary this weekend, though the Eagles have gotten corners Jalen Mills and Avonte Maddox back since that game. But he and Prescott torched the Eagles defense last season as well, with Cooper hauling in 10 catches for 213 yards and three touchdowns in Week 14.
The Cowboys defense has been more vulnerable in the second half of the season, with opponents averaging 23.4 points per game since the bye. Prior to last week’s game against the Rams, Dallas had given up 100+ rushing yards in every game since their week off. The team is clearly missing linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who left the first meeting between these teams with a neck injury and hasn’t returned to the lineup since. The team is reportedly “not optimistic” that he will return in 2019, and the Eagles could take advantage of his absence with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott.
In the end, we called in outside help to make a pick for this matchup. CBS 13 Sacramento sports director Marshall Harris weighed in, and he’s rolling with Philly.
“I think it’s crazy. But for some reason, I believe the Philadelphia Eagles are going to beat the Dallas Cowboys. I know both of those teams had two very different types of wins,” said Harris. “I really like the chance that Carson Wentz has now to silence all the people in Philadelphia. We know the Cowboys are a hot mess. We know Jason Garrett is not coming back. I think the Eagles win this game, take the division.”
The folks in Vegas don’t feel quite the same way. As of this writing, the Eagles are listed as 2.5-point underdogs in front of their home fans. Kickoff for Sunday’s matchup is set for 3:25 p.m. CST from Lincoln Financial Field.