Faint playoffs hopes are on the line as the Dallas Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday afternoon. The NFL flexed the Washington-Carolina game to 4:05 p.m., which means these two teams won't know if they still are alive or not since one Washington win eliminates them both.
These two teams played back on Nov. 1, with the Eagles winning an ugly 23-9 game at home. It was a quarterback matchup between Carson Wentz and Ben DiNucci, and neither of these players under center on Sunday. Wentz was miserable with just 123 yards passing and two interceptions to go with two passing touchdowns. Dallas actually out-gained the home team 265-222 and forced four turnovers but still lost.
Brighter days are ahead for the Eagles, who are coming off a tough 33-26 loss at Arizona that saw Jalen Hurts put up 338 yards passing and turn in another solid performance. The signal-caller added 63 yards on the ground on 11 carries — good for 5.7 yards per carry. The defense gave up a boatload of yards but also forced a couple of turnovers as they played without three starting members of their secondary.
Dallas is playing good football, having won two straight games against the Bengals and 49ers. They were without Ezekiel Elliott, but Tony Pollard had a nice day with two touchdowns and 69 rushing yards on 12 carries. Andy Dalton was efficient with two touchdown passes and 209 yards through the air. The score says 41-33, but San Francisco did get a Hail Mary at the buzzer to add to the total.
Philadelphia at Dallas
Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 27 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Eagles -1.5
Three Things to Watch
Motivation would have been a concern for either of these teams had the Washington game stayed at 1 o'clock, but now both will have to continue to play hard. Philly is playing its second straight road game and will have to deal with some crowd noise in Dallas. This is their fifth road game out of their last seven overall. Week 17 features a home tilt against Washington, but will it matter? For the Cowboys, it's their second straight home contest with a road game at the Meadowlands up next against the Giants. The Cowboys are 3-2 since their Week 10 bye.
2. Hurts so good
It's very hard to find too many negatives in Hurts' first three appearances. He's got a 55.1 percent completion rate and five touchdowns to one interception. Hurts also has rushed the ball 34 times for nearly 200 yards the last three weeks, although he leaned much more on his arm than his legs in Arizona. The Cowboys defense has been the weak point of their team all season long and has struggled at times with mobile quarterbacks. With three games worth of film out there, can Dallas find a way to keep Hurts in the pocket and make him beat them with his arm, or will they be the next team who struggles to slow Philly down?
3. Give him time
Mostly due to injuries, the Dallas O-line is a far cry from what it was supposed to be in the preseason, and they'll need to be pretty good against the Eagles defensive line. If Philly can get some pressure on Dalton, then he's going to struggle. We'll see the status of Darius Slay as the week goes along, but he's very necessary against the Cowboys who boast three good wide receivers. Amari Cooper had just one reception for five yards in the first meeting between the two and Slay had success against Cooper when he was with the Lions as well. Still, even if Slay does return, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup have plus matchups as well as tight end Dalton Schultz.
Dallas may have won its last two games, but the Cowboys were against some bad competition. I just don't have faith in their defense to slow down the Hurts express on Sunday. They should be able to score on the Philly defense, but they won't get the last stop needed to pick up win No. 3 in a row.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Cowboys 28
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.