Eagles, Cowboys tangle in Big D for first place in the NFC East
The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Dallas Cowboys in A&T Stadium on "Sunday Night Football" in an NFC East matchup that could prove to be critical in determining the eventual winner of the division.
At this point, both teams have shown ups and downs while sitting with a 3-3 record. The Cowboys are riding a three-game losing streak after starting the season 3-0. Meanwhile, the Eagles have won two of their last three, but a 38-20 road loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6 has created some concern.
While Dallas and Philadelphia were considered the class of the NFC East entering this season it should be pointed out that the New York Giants, who have a rookie starting quarterback and have been without their best player for the past three games, are just a game behind at 2-4.
Sunday is the perfect opportunity for either the Eagles or Cowboys to make a statement and show that they are still a team to be feared in the NFC.
Philadelphia at Dallas
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 20 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Spread: Dallas -2.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Can the Cowboys bounce back?
Yes, Philadelphia's Week 6 loss is rather concerning, but that three-game skid by Dallas is showing that this team cannot seem to get its feet under them.
Granted, the Cowboys have lost two of those three games by two points, so one has to wonder if it's simply figuring out a way to get over the hump. Either way, there may not be a more important weekend for them to right the ship. Dallas has its bye after this game and still has games with New England, the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago, Buffalo, and Minnesota on the schedule, as well as three more NFC East matchups.
2. Doug Pederson's win guarantee
Interestingly enough, Pederson went on Sports Radio WIP in Philadelphia on Monday and all but guaranteed a victory over the Cowboys. The Eagles head coach did try to backtrack later on, but we will let you read his quote:
“We're going down to Dallas, and our guys are gonna be ready to play. And we're gonna win that football game, and when we do, we're in first place in the NFC East."
Much like Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, Minnesota's Kirk Cousins had really struggled prior to the game against Philadelphia last week. He had only thrown for five touchdowns through five games and had been sacked times in the last two contests alone.
Against the Eagles, Cousins had his breakout performance, completing 76 percent of passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception. Cousins added to Philadelphia's defensive woes, as the Eagles are 29th in the NFL against the pass this season, allowing 280.2 passing yards per game. They have given up 13 touchdown passes although they do have seven interceptions through six games.
Can Prescott follow in Cousins' footsteps and treat Sunday night as a get-right game? If that does happen then it will only add to the scrutiny Pederson has already gotten for his seemingly ill-advised (and definitely ill-timed) comments.
3. Dallas WRs vs. Eagles CBs
One reason Cousins was able to have his way against Philadelphia was the injuries in the secondary. Cornerback Ronald Darby suffered a hamstring injury while running mate Avonte Maddox got a concussion. Maddox has already been ruled out for Sunday's game while Darby is expected to play barring a setback in warm-ups.
While that may sound exploitable for the Cowboys, they are dealing with injuries as well. Amari Cooper (quadricep/ankle) and Randall Cobb (back) didn't practice much at all this week but both are expected to play. Michael Gallup also has been dealing with a nagging knee injury.
At some point, the Cowboys have to get back on track. They are too talented on both sides of the football to be on a three-game losing streak right now. But the same can be said of the Eagles, whose inconsistency in the early going can be somewhat attributed to injuries.
This game should be close, but we will go ahead and take the home team. Do not expect it to be any sort of blowout, however. That 2.5-point line seems like it is in the right spot, so make sure to keep that in mind.
Also make sure to monitor the health of the Dallas offensive tackles, Tyron Smith (ankle) and La'el Collins (knee). Both are expected to play, but it will be worth keeping an eye on them to see how they hold up throughout their game. Their importance to the success of the Cowboys' offense can't be overlooked.
Prediction: Cowboys 23, Eagles 20
— Written by Clint Lamb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.