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Eagles-Cowboys predictions: Dallas goes down in our beat writers’ picks for Week 6

In what could be a close game, the Eagles are expected to improve to 6-0 — if Micah Parsons and the Cowboys don't wreck things.

Eagles defensive end Milton Williams takes down Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott on Saturday, January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia.
Eagles defensive end Milton Williams takes down Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott on Saturday, January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Eagles will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Here are the game predictions from our Eagles beat writers for Week 6.

Jeff McLane

The Eagles showed the last two games that when they need to pound it on the ground, they can. As much as they don’t want to become predictable, the feeling here is that they’ll need to, pardon the expression, establish the run if they want to offset the Cowboys’ potent pass rush. There are other ways to slow Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Co. Nick Sirianni could simply lean on the quick pass game to protect quarterback Jalen Hurts, or use tempo to keep Dallas’ defensive linemen on the field. But the Cowboys are allowing 4.7 yards a carry and the Eagles can smashmouth with the best of them.

I don’t mean to suggest that power football will win this game. Hurts will have to remain an element in the run game. The Eagles will need to throw, and throw downfield, on occasion. But with either the not-100 percent Jordan Mailata or backup Jack Driscoll at left tackle, Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen have to find some way to keep Parsons from wrecking the game plan. The second-year linebacker is already one of the best edge rushers in the NFL, but one of the challenges of preparing for him is that you never know where he may line up — on the ball or off. Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn can scheme with the best of them, but if the Eagles are able to get to manageable third downs, his Cover 3-heavy zone will have a hard time holding up against the Eagles’ offensive weapons. If they can’t, Quinn can utilize man coverage concepts that Hurts hasn’t had as much success throwing against.

Dak Prescott practiced for the first time since his thumb injury this week, but he was limited, and Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said the team was preparing for Cooper Rush to start at quarterback for a fifth straight game. Considering how well he has played it makes sense not to rush Prescott. But if he’s ready, he’ll be back in the lineup. The Cowboys are likely to lean run-heavy either way with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard having success as complementary running backs. The Eagles’ run defense hasn’t been exactly stout, especially when Jordan Davis and the five-man front isn’t on the field. The rookie nose tackle could factor heavily into the approach each side takes.

» READ MORE: Eagles’ Jordan Davis is making ‘scary’ progress, which could be pivotal against the Cowboys’ rushing attack

Rush isn’t going to burn pass defenses with his arm, but he’s smart and disciplined and has yet to turn the ball over. The Eagles are tied for the league lead in takeaways. Something has to give. Jonathan Gannon has called some good games and has done a better job of mixing up his coverages and rushes. Tackling was a major problem last week against the Cardinals, though. There’s nothing wrong with playing soft with a lead, but when the ball is coming out fast to negate the Eagles rush, Gannon may need his corners to press more. The matchups are intriguing and neither side seems to have a decided advantage in any area, except for maybe Dallas’ special teams, but I’ll keep giving the Eagles the edge until they lose.

Prediction: Eagles 23, Cowboys 20

» READ MORE: Lane Johnson’s mastery on film as analyzed by Eagles O-line coach Jeff Stoutland

EJ Smith

All eyes will be on the Eagles for what might be the stiffest test of the season to date.

This isn’t to suggest the Eagles haven’t beaten some good teams, but Dallas has a formidable defense and is off to a hot start even with Prescott on the shelf. The Cowboys don’t put too much on Rush’s plate, but they’ve been a steady rushing team with Pollard and Elliott. The Eagles secondary will have its hands full with CeeDee Lamb, who lines up in the slot just as often as he does on the outside. As such, Avonte Maddox’s availability will be a pivotal factor.

On the other side of the ball, the health along the Eagles offensive line could make the difference. Four of the five starters are nursing injuries, with Mailata’s hurt shoulder being the biggest question mark. Landon Dickerson also missed chunks of last Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, while Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo are nursing their own ankle injuries.

Dallas has been one of the most disruptive pass-rushing teams in the league without sending extra rushers all that often. Parsons and Lawrence are both difference makers off the edge and either player could wreck the Eagles’ game plan if Mailata is banged up or, even worse, sidelined.

» READ MORE: How Micah Parsons’ dominance off the edge, Jordan Mailata’s status impact the Eagles vs. the Dallas Cowboys

Still, the Eagles have shown they can win in a multitude of ways, which will be necessary against Dallas. If they have to rely on heavy sets and slug it out on the ground, they should be able to put up enough points to keep pace with the Cowboys. If they can protect Hurts and take shots against the ever-aggressive Trevon Diggs, even better.

This doesn’t have the feeling of a shootout. It’s actually a matchup between the Eagles’ fifth-ranked defense and the Cowboys’ sixth-ranked group. The Eagles’ banged-up offensive line will need to either protect or get the accommodations needed to stay afloat, but the Eagles have the talent advantage once again and should go into the bye week 6-0.

Prediction: Eagles 24, Cowboys 21

Josh Tolentino

Could the Eagles’ record really be flawless at the bye week? It’s not that unimaginable.

Whether or not the Eagles are able to maintain perfection this weekend will be largely dependent on the performance of a battered offensive line; four of the five starters are dealing with injuries while right tackle Lane Johnson is the only healthy O-lineman.

Lawrence and Parsons present the toughest pass rush challenge of the season. Driscoll has been a willing soldier, but a banged-up Mailata might be better than a healthy Driscoll on Hurts’ blindside. If Mailata and Johnson can stand their ground, Hurts will need to take advantage and use his improved awareness to attack the Cowboys secondary. The 24-year-old quarterback has made strides across his game, but his passing numbers the last two weeks were much more tame than in his first three games. The Eagles will need to prioritize their most favorable matchups, and that begins with star wideout A.J. Brown, who had only three catches in Week 5.

Defensively, the Eagles will need to end their tackling miscues. Elliott and Pollard provide the Cowboys with a dynamic 1-2 punch, and Philadelphia’s run defense has been suspect at times. Davis will likely get his largest workload of his young career. If he’s able to disrupt the trenches, that’ll help linebackers Kyzir White and T.J. Edwards pursue the ballcarrier with physicality and force. The Eagles boast the second-best three-and-out percentage (43.4%, 23 three-and-outs). In what’s expected to be a tight matchup, a turnover or two might be the difference. The Eagles are tied with the Ravens and Bills for most takeaways in the league (11).

Last weekend, Hurts departed Arizona with a bitter taste in his mouth after the Eagles failed to score a touchdown on the final drive. Hurts might need to direct another clutch drive on Sunday night in front of what’s expected to be a raucous crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Cowboys 24

Inquirer Eagles beat reporters EJ Smith and Josh Tolentino preview the team’s Week 6 game against the Dallas Cowboys. Watch at Inquirer.com/EaglesGameday

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