So here we are, December 31, 2017, Week 17 of the NFL season, the playoffs a week away, and unfortunately there isn’t much to look forward to for Cowboys fans aside from the intrigue surrounding the coaching staff over the next few weeks, and the upcoming draft process.
Sure, there might be a few interesting names to watch in today’s matchup on the Cowboys side as far as younger players like Chidobe Awuzie, Taco Charlton, and Xavier Woods, but these aren’t players getting their first taste of NFL action. At this point you have to feel like you have a decent handle on what these players are right now, and what they could be in the future, and luckily for the Cowboys if there is a bright spot coming out of last week’s Seattle debacle it’s that some of the rookies like Charlton looked like they will be solid contributors for years to come.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and many of the Cowboys stars will be out there Sunday, but who knows for how long? It might interest some to see how or if Prescott or Dez Bryant can bounce back from a horrific performance last week, but in the end will it really make you feel better if they tear up the Eagles backups?
Conversely, will another poor performance really change anything?
I suspect not.
In the middle of the week Doug Pederson alluded to having a quick hook for his starters today, he seems to want to play them to some extent, but when a coach is already talking about “being smart” several days before the game you have to imagine that we won’t see many of their stars beyond a handful of drives.
Despite the struggles of Nick Foles no coach in their right mind is going to risk an injury and being forced into starting Nate Sudfeld, who has never attempted an NFL regular season pass, in a playoff game in two weeks. So even though the Eagles would surely love to get Foles extra reps with the starting unit, this should be the Sudfeld show no later than the beginning of the third quarter.
It’s anybody’s guess as to how much the Cowboys starters will play but given the backlash from fans and media, with many calling for Jason Garrett’s head, you better believe the Cowboys coach is aware of the optics of a “9-7” season vs. a “8-8” season. Jerry Jones has spoke of the “importance” of going 9-7 in recent days, so even though Tyron Smith and Cole Beasley are out, and guys like Sean Lee will likely see their reps scaled back, don’t be surprised if Prescott and most of the starters play out the entire game.
If that is indeed the case the Cowboys should win easily. It may be close for a while, especially while most of the Eagles starters are in, but as soon as Sudfeld is in it should be a cakewalk, not that it necessarily matters as you could argue the only impact of this game (falling a few slots in the draft order) is a negative one.
So on that note I’ll mercifully end this article and spare you having to read anymore about a game and season that all Cowboys fans are looking forward to getting over with as quickly as possible. Let’s just hope for no serious Cowboys injuries today, and here’s to the Nick Foles-led Eagles flaming out of the playoffs in two weeks. Cowboys, 24-13.