Divisional games have a way of taking on a life of their own, so the pre-game predictions may not mean all that much. Whether or not the experts have a good feel for what will happen on Sunday night remains to be seen, but here's what those experts are predicting for the game:
Sam Farmer, LA Times (9-4)
||The Eagles will bounce back after a dispiriting home loss to Seattle, and they'll be extra motivated by the prospect of nudging the Cowboys one step closer to missing the playoffs.|
Greg Cote, Miami Herald (8-5)
||Sunday’s prime-time stage lucks into Week 15’s marquee-topper, a duel for first place in the NFC East featuring top RBs DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy. Philly owns the tiebreaker right now, so Cowboys need this a little bit more. Birds dominated ’Boys 33-10 on Thanksgiving, but beating a quality rival twice in one year is tough. Also, Dallas is 6-0 on the road, and the away team has won six of past seven in this series. Tony Romo’s gang also is more rested, after playing last Thursday. Did I mention Romo has a 125 passer rating on the road this year?
Vinny Iyer, Sporting News (8-5)
||The key for the Cowboys will be to play more aggressively and come out throwing a little to force Philadelphia do the chasing instead of them. They still need to give DeMarco Murray his touches, but can’t afford to force-feed him and try to play ball control because the Eagles don’t care about time of possession. The Eagles’ quick-strike ability should return, however, after being shut down by Seattle. They have more diverse, hard-to-cover receiving weapons to complement the run and offensive line than Dallas does, and that’s the difference again.|
Peter Schrager, Foxsports (8-4)
||It wasn't pretty for the Cowboys when these teams played two weeks ago. DeMarco Murray, who has torched the entire league, ran for a season-low 73 yards and the Philadelphia defensive line was in the Dallas backfied the entire afternoon. And though Murray had 179 yards on the ground last week, he's never broken the century mark versus the Eagles. As I mentioned at the top, this is truly a make-or-break game, and 11-5 might not be enough for Dallas to get in if it’s swept by Philadelphia. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I think the Cowboys get it together and find a way on Sunday night.|
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (8-5)
||This will likely decide the division winner. The Eagles dominated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, but I think this will be different. I think the 10 days off, after playing last Thursday, will help the Cowboys. They will be much better prepared on defense this time around. Tony Romo wins another December game.|
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk (8-5)
||Last time around, the Cowboys weren’t ready to be competitive after only three days off — especially with a quarterback who never practices on the third day after playing. This time, the Cowboys have had extra rest and the Eagles have to be wondering whether they can compete with the best teams in the conference. Last week’s loss to the Seahawks suggests they can’t, which could make it harder for them to match the intensity that the Cowboys will bring to Philly while chasing their elusive 10th win.|
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com (6-7)
||Dallas wins the day, but not necessarily the NFC East. The Cowboys still host Indianapolis and finish the season at Washington (which is never an easy game). Meanwhile, the Eagles play at Washington and then finish in the New Meadowlands against the Giants. While I would give Philadelphia the schedule advantage (Colts > Giants), you just never know with these NFC East games. Philly and Big Blue have split the past two seasons, while the Redskins shocked the Cowboys at Jerry World earlier this year. I like the Cowboys on Sunday because they'll have had nine days to rest, and when these teams faced off last time, the 'Boys had played a Sunday night game on the East Coast a few days prior. Also, teams typically don't do so hot the week after they face the Seahawks. Call it being beasted.|
Michael Smith, Pro Football Talk (6-7)
||Philadelphia can’t actually clinch the NFC East on Sunday night, but it can come pretty close by taking a one-game lead and completing the season sweep over Dallas. That’s what I’m expecting to see, as Chip Kelly will get his offense straightened out and the Eagles will score plenty on the Cowboys.|
Our selection of pick 'em panels is less clear in its tendencies than at any previous point in the season. Some panels strongly favor the Cowboys, some are split, and some strongly favor the Eagles. It's up to you to figure out which panels you'll put your trust in.
|NFL Around The League||1
|SB Nation||3||4||.539 (50-41)|
|Pro Football Focus||1||7||.500 (53-53)|
Most of the pundits in the first table are predicting a shootout, with a combined score of 50 points or more. But such a divisional game could just as easily turn into a low-scoring nailbiter. Over the last four games the two teams have combined for as little as 20 combined points (17-3 Cowboys win in Week 7, 2013) and 71 points (38-33 Cowboys win in Week 13, 2012).
What's your expectation, a shootout or a low-scoring nailbiter?