The Eagles will play on Monday night on the road against the Dallas Cowboys.
Here are the game predictions from Eagles beat writers for Week 3.
The Cowboys are banged up. They could be without as many as six starters if receiver Amari Cooper is unable to play through a rib injury. The Eagles have injury issues, as well, with Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks out.
Still, the Eagles should have an advantage up front, particularly on offense, assuming rookie Landon Dickerson is able to settle in at right guard. The line will have to be on the alert for rookie linebacker Micah Parsons. He has a team-high 11 pressures in just 40 pass rush attempts and will come from multiple spots. There’s a strong chance Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will also have the Penn State product shadow Jalen Hurts.
The Cowboys got All-Pro guard Zach Martin back last week, but they’re without right tackle La’el Collins. Tyron Smith is still one of the NFL’s best left tackles, but center Tyler Biadasz is susceptible. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave should have the advantage, especially if he chooses to rush as a nose. Dak Prescott isn’t as nimble as he once was, but he still can dissect a defense as well as any quarterback.
Quarterback should be where Dallas has a distinct advantage. Prescott and Hurts aren’t facing off, per se, but this should be the most proficient offense — I almost forget to mention running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard — Jonathan Gannon’s defense will face in the first three weeks. The Eagles should have opportunities to throw downfield as long as Hurts has time, but I like the Cowboys in a home shootout.
Prediction: Cowboys 31, Eagles 30
Monday’s prime-time game against the Cowboys will be the biggest test for the Eagles secondary so far this season. Whether it’s up to the task or not could decide the game.
Under defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, we’ve seen the back end heavily favor zone coverage instead of the man-to-man scheme the Eagles employed most of last year. The emphasis on taking away explosive plays downfield, sometimes at the expense of allowing underneath passes, has worked well for the Eagles so far this season. They’re ranked eighth in defensive efficiency by Football Outsiders and have allowed the third lowest number of passing yards in the league so far.
Still, Dak Prescott is the best quarterback the Eagles have seen this season, and his group of receivers is one of the most talented in the league. Because of this, the Cowboys might be more capable of taking what the Eagles defense gives them with more success than the Falcons and 49ers.
If that’s the case, it’s hard to know whether the Eagles offense can keep up in a shootout. It was productive when protecting a lead against Atlanta with consistent short targets and screen passes, but the shot plays it relied upon against San Francisco weren’t as effective. What happens if the Eagles need to hit those shot plays in Arlington?
The Cowboys are seriously banged up on the defensive line, which gives the Eagles a better chance of controlling the line of scrimmage and keeping Jalen Hurts clean.
Still, styles make fights, and there’s still too much unknown about the Eagles’ offensive firepower to pick them in a game that could potentially turn into a track meet.
Prediction: Cowboys 31, Eagles 21
Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon deploys a zone-heavy scheme with an emphasis on limiting big plays. That’ll be stressed even more this week with the Cowboys ranking fourth in total offense with 435 yards per game. The Eagles have done a respectable job in limiting the Falcons and 49ers to just 23 combined points and they’ve done so without forcing a single turnover. Takeaways typically play a crucial role in outcomes, and Gannon is confident a forced fumble or interception will eventually come. Could the Eagles’ first takeaway occur under the lights at AT&T Stadium?
Meanwhile, the Cowboys own the NFL’s best turnover ratio, plus-4, with a league-high six interceptions. The Eagles’ Jalen Hurts is one of just four quarterbacks (joining Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, and Teddy Bridgewater) to compile 500-plus total yards with zero turnovers this season. Something is bound to give.
Hurts and Co. might be capable of keeping up with the Cowboys offense, but the Eagles are coming off a Week 2 loss in which the passing game vanished completely in the second half. Nick Sirianni needs to do a much better job with his play-call selection and getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers – e.g., DeVonta Smith, who Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy described as: “A very polished receiver. I appreciate his route game. He’s dynamic. He’s tough. He’s got a really good release package. His release from the stem to the breaking point is really impressive and top notch for any receiver.” I’m expecting a slew of quick passes in Sirianni’s opening-game script, which will help Hurts establish some much-needed rhythm on the road.
The NFC East is currently in a weird state, where it seems any team is capable of winning the division. As evidenced in last Thursday night’s game, funky things tend to happen in prime time contests involving NFC East foes. The Cowboys seem like the surefire bet, but because of those reasons, I’m siding with the visitors at Jerry World.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Cowboys 20