I am not in a predicting mood this week, given both teams’ injuries and inconsistencies, but it’s part of the job, so here goes:
I am willing to ride with the Eagles just a little bit farther, despite that voice in the back of my head warning that a team that falls behind by double digits in five of six games is a disaster waiting to unfold.
I guess I still have a decent amount of faith in Carson Wentz, against a defense that has underperformed and is a bit banged-up. And if the Eagles’ pass-rushers can’t get traction against backup Cowboys tackles, then we were fooling ourselves about this team’s talent level all along. This week will tell us. I’m unsure how the juggled linebacking rotation will affect the team’s ability to control Ezekiel Elliott, but nobody has really beaten the Eagles with the run game this year.
I don’t know what to make of the Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby situations, whether they will really help that much, but they can’t be worse than what we saw last week. In picking the Eagles to win, I’m assuming Amari Cooper doesn’t play. If he does, well, that might be unfortunate.
Once more into the breach.
Prediction: Eagles 29, Cowboys 27
This is a difficult game to pick because it’s probably going to be decided by how many of each team’s injured players are able to play. And at the moment, it’s too early to know the answer to that.
Both teams have key players hurt. If the Cowboys don’t have wide receiver Amari Cooper (quad contusion), and offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La’el Collins (knee) and cornerbacks Byron Jones and Anthony Brown (hamstrings), then you really have to like the Eagles’ chances in this game. Especially if they get two of their own injured cornerbacks, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, back.
Not having to deal with Cooper, who had 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns in the Cowboys’ Week 14 win over them last December, would be huge for an Eagles defense that is 30th in passing yards allowed and 28th in touchdown passes given up.
People were ready to put Dak Prescott in Canton after the Cowboys started out 3-0 and Prescott had thrown nine touchdown passes and had 128.0 passer rating. But in their three straight losses, he has an 82.7 rating, including just two touchdown passes and four interceptions.
The Eagles need to get pressure on Prescott, which is a big ask for a pass rush that has just four sacks in five games against teams not called the New York Jets. But if Smith and Collins can’t play, maybe it won’t be so big.
Prediction: Eagles 27, Cowboys 24
The NFL is weird. Take the Jets, for instance. They looked like they couldn’t beat Alabama when they lost to the Eagles two weeks ago, but they get Sam Darnold back and stun the Cowboys. The Eagles, meanwhile, went to the Vikings and made Kirk Cousins look like Fran Tarkenton.
I don’t know what the NFL law of averages suggests will happen Sunday. We still don’t know if Amari Cooper or Dallas’ tackles will play. But I got to believe that both the Cowboys and Eagles will bounce back. Of course, that means that both teams can’t win.
But I think Carson Wentz is better than Dak Prescott, and when it doubt, go with the more polished quarterback.