Staff predictions for Eagles-Cowboys
What did the beat writers predict for the last Eagles game of the regular season?
Our Eagles beat writers project what will happen in the Eagles-Cowboys regular-season finale at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
If this game meant something to both teams, it would be a lot easier to predict a winner. But it doesn't. The Cowboys have been eliminated from the playoff hunt. The Eagles already have locked up home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Maybe the Eagles care about setting the club record for victories in a season. I doubt it. The only thing they care about is getting through this game without anybody getting hurt.
I suspect Doug Pederson will roll most of his offensive starters out there for a while Sunday so that Nick Foles can wash the bad taste of his performance against the Raiders out of his mouth and remember where Alshon Jeffery is located. But that won't be for more than a quarter, or maybe a half.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott needs 120 yards for another 1,000-yard season. So I suspect he'll play most of the game. That's enough for me to lean in the direction of the Cowboys.
Prediction: Cowboys 24, Eagles 20
Anybody who bets on a meaningless NFL game must be crazy, and the same probably goes for making predictions on such.
If both teams show up and give a representative effort, if the Eagles do indeed play starters quite a bit, then I guess I'll take the Birds, figuring playing in front of the home crowd ought to mean something, kind of, maybe, I guess.
But if we get a whole bunch of Zeke Elliott running at Destiny Vaeao and Steve Means, and Dak Prescott throwing at Sidney Jones in the rookie's first action, or somesuch, well, the home crowd might not be pivotal.
Eagles players keep mentioning the chance to win 14 games for the first time in franchise history, something their coaches clearly are preaching for motivation. Wonder if the coaches told them that the 2004 team was 13-1, and the only reason it didn't win 14 or even 15 games was that Andy Reid rested the starters for two weeks.
Prediction: I have no earthly idea. But if I must … Eagles 28, Cowboys 24?
The only thing left to play for is the franchise mark of 14 regular-season victories. Well, that's not entirely true because giving Nick Foles more live snaps with the offense should help as the Eagles push toward the playoffs.
But there's always the risk of injury. It says here that giving Foles the opportunity to erase last week's dreadful performance is worth the gamble. Give the quarterback a half or however long it takes to put together and few touchdown drives, and then pull the plug and hand the keys to Nate Sudfeld.
As far as the game, who knows how it will turn out. I'll go with the home team since the Eagles almost always find a way to win.
Prediction: Eagles 27, Cowboys 24.
The Eagles will tell you it's not a meaningless game and there's pride in winning a franchise-record 14 games and going undefeated at home. They're right.
But most important is getting to the postseason healthy, and I think the Eagles lineup in the fourth quarter will look closer to that of an August game than a December game. So my guess is this a more competitive game in the first half than the second half, when the Cowboys will pull away with their first-teamers on the field.
Eagles fans should hope Nick Foles puts together a good drive or two early in the game to generate momentum and Nate Sudfeld can get some snaps thereafter. That'll be enough to calm any concern on New Year's Eve, but it might not be enough to beat Dallas.
Prediction: Cowboys 23, Eagles 17