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Cowboys vs. Eagles: Predicting who will take over the NFC East lead on Sunday

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The Cowboys vs. The Eagles on Sunday Night Football could determine the outcome of the division.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys and Eagles both walk into Sunday Night Football at 3-3. The Cowboys and Eagles have not been living up to the offseason hype that pegged them as two of the deepest rosters in football. However, this game is pivotal for both teams and the Cowboys need to end this three-game skid.

When the Eagles have the ball

Clog the running lanes

The Cowboys defense has been disappointing this season. With a handful of Pro Bowlers and All-Pros sprinkled all over the defense, there aren’t any viable excuses for the ineptitude. The defensive tackles have been moved off the line far too easily and the linebackers have been washed out of the play far too often.

Dallas must improve their gap discipline and stop the Eagles from running it down their throats. Line one in defensive football is stop the run. The Cowboys have to keep the Eagles rushing attack at bay because we saw in Green Bay, the Eagles ran at will on the Packers. Unfortunately for Dallas, the Packers ran all over them the next week. Wake up, defense.

When the Cowboys have the ball

No slow starts, execute big plays

The Cowboys have struggled to get moving on offense in just about every game this season. Dallas has just one opening drive score all season, a field goal in New Orleans. The Eagles outscore the Cowboys 75-54 in the first-half of games. However, the Eagles and Cowboys are eerily similar as they both have been second-half teams that find themselves being out scored by opponents in the first half.

The Cowboys have learned the hard way for three straight games that slow starts kill you in the NFL. The Eagles defense will give up the big plays and the points but it’s up to the Cowboys to execute. Philadelphia has given up 19 plays of 20+ yards or more and six explosive touchdowns. They are tied with two other teams for the most explosive touchdowns given up this season. Your move, Cowboys.

Now, here are the writers predictions:

David Howman

These two teams match up well but with the way Dallas has been playing lately, I don’t believe enough to pick them. The Cowboys will make another second half comeback to keep it close, but they’ll drop their first division game of the year. 24-21 Eagles over the Cowboys.

Matt Holleran

The Cowboys struggles continue as they lose their fourth straight this weekend against the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. With Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Amari Cooper all potentially missing this game, I just have no hope the Dallas’ offense will be able to put up enough points to keep up with Philly. Ezekiel Elliott will have a solid day against the Philly rush defense, but in the end Carson Wentz will make just enough plays to give the Eagles a big victory. Eagles 24, Cowboys 20.

Michael Strawn

No idea where this will go to be honest. Two desperate teams who’ve struggled to this point; whoever loses will have another week of misery while the winner can feel good again. Just feel Dallas finally comes out ready to play and avoids the bad mistakes. Dallas 27, Philly 26.

Danny Phantom

Losing to the Jets last week has to be rock bottom, right? Wrong. Getting beat convincingly at home to the team’s biggest division threat will feel even worse. The Cowboys are broken and it would be presumptuous of me to think they’ll suddenly be fixed for the biggest game of the season. This Dallas team is not as bad as what they’ve been showing us as of late, but until they put some better football together, they just can’t be trusted Eagles 27, Cowboys 13.

Tom Ryle

You’d think I’d learn, but I still think the Cowboys are going to find a way to win this one. It will require them to get away from running on early downs, and I can only hope that the last few weeks will finally force them out of that. But what they really need is to get a pick on Carson Wentz, the earlier the better, and give the offense a shorter field to work from. It will be nerve-wracking at times, but I think 27-20 feels like what we could see.

Michael Sisemore

Though this game seems winnable for the Cowboys, I don’t see them pulling it off. Count me very disturbed by what has been developing within this Cowboys team. The offense has the propensity to self-destruct but are also very banged up on the offensive line with Fletcher Cox on deck. The Cowboys also are not sure whether Amari Cooper or Randall Cobb will be available. Lastly, over the last two games, there is nothing you can trust about the a Cowboys defense. Eagles 28, Cowboys 21.