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Eagles-Cowboys predictions

1. How will the Eagles offense do?

Jeff McLane: Doug Pederson would love to end the year on a positive note as it relates to his offense, but it doesn't help that the Eagles are hurting at several spots. They're down to just Darren Sproles and Byron Marshall at running back and receiver Jordan Matthews has yet to practice this week. The Eagles should have their starting offensive line intact now that left guard Allen Barbre (hamstring) is back, but I would prefer to see more of rookie Isaac Seumalo. He is the future, after all.

The Cowboys are likely to rest a number of their starters on both sides of the ball. They have several ailing defenders. Cornerback Morris Claiborne, defensive tackles Terrell McClain, Cedric Thornton and Tyrone Crawford, and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence have yet to practice this week. Linebacker Sean Lee and defensive end Jack Crawford were limited on Thursday. Dallas has a first-round playoff bye, but it makes little sense to play those guys in an otherwise meaningless game.

Nevertheless, Sunday is one more opportunity for Carson Wentz to get on the field. The rookie quarterback hasn't put up great numbers over the last several games, but in each he's continued to show why he is the future. He's also shown reasons for concern, but a clean effort against the Cowboys would put a nice bow on his first year.

Zach Berman: The Eagles showed some encouraging signs last week, and I think it continues against the Cowboys. In the first game against Dallas, the Eagles used a quick passing game (Wentz went 32 of 44 for 202 yards) to counteract the Cowboys defense. They only ran 24 times that day, and I wouldn't expect it to be a run-heavy attack with Darren Sproles and Byron Marshall as the top options. The quick passing game will be the way to go. I'd expect Sproles and Zach Ertz to be used frequently. You saw that the Eagles are better with Lane Johnson back at right tackle. They'll benefit from another week of him there. I'm curious how many defenders the Cowboys will take out as the game progresses, but this could be a week of some stat-padding for the Eagles offensive players.

2. How will the Eagles defense do?

McLane: The Cowboys are expected to start Dak Prescott at quarterback, but the hook could be quick. Tony Romo is now likely to take his first snaps of the season, per reports. But former Eagle Mark Sanchez should play the most under center. He won't have all of the Cowboy's impressive offensive line to protect him, though. Left tackle Tyron Smith has already been ruled out. And he probably won't have running back extraordinaire Ezekiel Elliott for very long either.

The Eagles defense, too, would love to end on a high note. I'm not sure how much carry-over there can be into next year, especially when there will likely be changes at cornerback, but most of the rest of the unit should be back next season. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are definites. The jury is still out on Connor Barwin, Bennie Logan and Mychal Kendricks.

Berman: On a normal week, this would be a much more daunting challenge for the Eagles defense. But if Smith doesn't play, and the Cowboys' top players exit early – Prescott, Elliott, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, etc. – then that Cowboys offense is not nearly as imposing. Mark Sanchez is expected to quarterback a chunk of the game, with Tony Romo also getting time. Dallas has experienced backup running backs (Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris), so they'll still run the ball. And they can't bench every offensive lineman. But the Eagles defense will have a better game than they typically would. Sanchez has been turnover-prone in the past – do I need to remind Eagles fans? – so an opportunistic defense will try to pounce.

3. Who's a player to watch?

McLane: How about two: Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham. The Eagles' starting outside receivers have put up near identical receiving numbers this season. Agholor has 36 catches for 365 yards (10.1 avg.) and two touchdowns in 14 games, while Green-Beckham has 35 catches for 377 yards (10.8 avg.) and two touchdowns also in 14 games. Because of their contract situations and the Eagles' lack of young talent at the position, it's possible that both, despite their lack of production, could be back in 2017. Is there any reason to believe that they still have upside? Probably not. But maybe a strong finish could provide hope? Maybe? I'm not convinced.

Berman: Connor Barwin has faced some tough left tackles this season, but he catches a break without Smith. The Cowboys are expected to go with Emmett Cleary, who played 15 snaps last week. This could be a chance for Barwin to end the season on a positive note. There's some uncertainty surrounding his future with the Eagles, and a salary adjustment may be necessary to stay with the Eagles. But if he can come out of Sunday with more than four sacks on the season, it'll look like a better year.

4. What's your prediction?

McLane: This is a tough game to predict because the Cowboys' plans aren't exactly clear. A record of 7-9 sounds a whole lot better for the Eagles than 6-10, although a final victory would have to come with an asterisk if Dallas were to rest most of its starters. On a personal note, I apologize if anyone had used my predictions to feed their gambling problem. I was utterly pathetic in picking games through the first half of the season, and only came on strong when the Eagles started to fold. See ya next season. Eagles 23, Cowboys 20.

Berman: The oddsmakers have the Eagles favored on Sunday, which should be a hint of how the Cowboys would look. On a different week, I'd pick the 13-2 Cowboys. But the Eagles are catching them at the right time, and this could be a chance for the Eagles to end the season on a two-game winning streak. Unlike the past two seasons, the Eagles won't hurt their first-round draft position with a Week 17 win. I see the Eagles playing a good game Sunday, the locker room rejoicing with claims that it will carry over into 2017, yet a number of those players replaced during another busy offseason for the Eagles. Give me Eagles 24, Cowboys 19.