A lot of the media attention prior to the game on Sunday will focus on the matchup between Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, but it may be the third rookie, Ezekiel Elliott, whose performance could decide the game. Here's why:
Prior to game against Cincinnati, many observers wondered whether the Cowboys would be able to get their ground game going against the Bengals. After all, the Bengals entered the game as the 14th-ranked run defense, had allowed only 97.5 yards per game up to that point, and hadn't allowed a 100-yard runner in 15 straight games.
Then Ezekiel Elliott ran for 134 yards as part of a ground game that rushed for 180 yards against the Bengals, whose run defense is now ranked 25th.
When the Cowboys traveled to Green Bay two weeks ago, many observers were once again wondering whether the Cowboys would be able to get their ground game going. After all, the Packers entered the game as the No. 1 ranked run defense, having allowed just 42.8 yards per game so far this year.
Thenran for 157 yards as part of a ground game that rushed for 191 yards against the Packers.
The Cowboys host the Eagles on Sunday, and once more many observers question whether the Cowboys will be able to get their ground game going against what is widely hailed as a formidable D-line, even if that D-line is allowing 102.7 yards per game (ranked 14th) at 4.5 yards a pop (ranked 25th).
We'll see how that works out on Sunday of course, but eight members of our nine-man expert panel like the Cowboys over the Eagles.
Sam Farmer, LA Times (5-1)
||24-20||This game is billed as a battle of rookie quarterbacks, and it is. But this is also another showcase for Philadelphia's stifling defense, even with the Cowboys gettingback.|
David Steele, Sporting News (5-1)
||26-21||The Eagles can keep the pressure on and give hope to the rest of the NFC East by winning. The Cowboys can dash that hope by coming off the bye, with Dez Bryant back, with smoking-hot rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott catching their breath ... and putting distance between themselves and the division.|
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com (4-2)
||27-20||Think the Eagles' defense is going to have its hands full this Sunday night. As fantastic as Jim Schwartz's unit has performed, think about the running backs these guys have faced:, , , , and Jerick McKinnon. Sure, some of those dudes are decent players. Crowell averaged over 5 yards per carry against the Eagles. laid well over a hundy on them. So, what do you think Zeke is gonna do? This Eagles front seven -- which has earned my respect -- hasn't seen an offensive line even close to this Dallas group. On the other side, I expect Carson Wentz to be effective, especially given the Cowboys' troubles with the pass rush. (They should go get one.) The issue is that Rod Marinelli's defense is getting much-needed rest when the offense goes on another long march. The Great Wall of Dallas 2.0 vs. Schwartz's stingy defense = great freaking football.|
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (3-3)
||21-20||The Eagles didn’t play so well in their last two road games, but the defense got back on track last week against the. This is a bigger challenge, especially against the run, but I think they will keep it close. Carson Wentz against Dak Prescott will be entertaining in a tight one.|
Michael Smith, Pro Football Talk (3-3)
||28-21||In one of this year’s better prime time games, the Cowboys should beat the Eagles and take control of the NFC East.|
Chris Simms, Bleacher Report (3-3)
||23-20||I look at the Eagles defensive line and see so many stars.
But I look at Dallas’ results from Weeks 1-7 and see that it doesn’t matter.
Greg Cote, Miami Herald (3-3)
||27-20||NFL Week 8’s truncated 13-game schedule (on account of six byes) hits its payday with this Sunday nighter worthy of prime time. Rivalry is for the NFC East lead and also will shape league’s offensive rookie of the year race — with Birds’ Carson Wentz and ’Boys’ Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott all in play. Those are the big three almost to the exclusion of a fourth at this point. I like Dallas, at home, on a league-best five-game winning streak and with added preparation coming off a bye week. Cowboys’ surprisingly stout defense has yet to allow an opposing 100-yard rusher or receiver. On the other side, Philly’s banged-up secondary could open things up for Prescott (who has a 100-plus passer rating in five games in a row) and, in turn, Elliott.|
Peter Schrager, Foxsports (3-3)
||26-17||This is a beauty. Plenty of attention on both rookie quarterbacks and the question looming of whetherwill return to the lineup when he’s cleared to go. I can’t pick against the Cowboys until I have reason to believe anyone can stop their ground game. Ezekiel Elliott is gashing everyone, and the offensive line has had its way. I see it rolling right through this game.|
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk (1-5)
||27-24||Has a game this consequential ever had three rookies in such key roles? This one does, and the team with two of the key rookies has the edge.|
89% of the experts and algorithms tallied by NFLPickwatch.com favor the Cowboys over the Eagles, which is almost perfectly in line with our nine-man panel above. However, all but one of the experts predict a tight game that will be decided by one TD or less.
What's your take, will this game be as tight as the experts predict or will the Cowboys outscore their opponent by 14+ points for the third straight game?