The Dallas Cowboys will grace our televisions sets in a prime time event on Sunday night when they travel to Philadelphia to face the division rival Eagles. Despite a 2-5 record, the Cowboys have a chance to end the weekend in first place in the NFC East. But to do that, they’ll have to come up victorious against those pesky green birds who are riding a red-hot one-game winning streak coming into Week 8. What will it take to get the win? Here are five things to watch when these two division rivals face off.
1. Let if fly, DiNooch!
When Andy Dalton exited the Washington game with a concussion, fans got to see their first glimpse of seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci. Of course, it wasn’t much of a look as he only played 12 snaps due to the Cowboys inability to sustain drives. DiNucci played in three series, but they were short ones as the only first down they had was when he connected with Amari Cooper for a 32-yard completion. He was sacked three times, fumbled the ball twice, and only actually threw the ball three times.
Now, with a full week of preparation, he’s going to have plenty of opportunities to give us a much better idea as to what he can do. The coaching staff will do their best to get the running game going to keep him from difficult situations, but those times are still coming. While there will likely be some “uh oh” moments, it will still be exciting to see what this kid can do.
2. Watch your blind spot
Both teams are heavily banged up on the offensive line. And while the Cowboys are going to have fits fending off the pressure that opposing teams will unleash against their backup quarterbacks, they aren’t alone when it comes to having problems keeping their passer upright. The Eagles are bad. In fact, no other quarterback in the league has been sacked more than Carson Wentz.
Not only does Wentz get sacked a lot, but he loves to cough up the ball. He has the most fumbles of any quarterback in the NFC. Wentz is a playmaker, and he’ll try to extend plays as much as he can. Sometimes they work out brilliantly, other times it cost his team the game. Considering the Eagles (27th) and the Cowboys (dead last at 32nd) are just dreadful at protecting the ball, don’t be surprised if those blindside hits/sack/strip/fumbles come home to roost in this one.
3. Who will Carson throw the ball to?
The Eagles have had all kinds of injuries to their receivers this season. Alshon Jeffrey has yet to play, first-round pick Jalen Reagor has missed five games (although he might play this week), and veteran Desean Jackson finally returned after being out a few weeks. The team’s leading receivers are second-year players Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward. That’s not a lot for Wentz to work with.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, they’ve also been without not only their top tight end in Zach Ertz (missed last week), but also one of the league’s best backups in Dallas Goedert (missed the last four games). That’s rough for a team that heavily targets their tight end.
On the surface, it looks like a moment of reprieve for rookie Trevon Diggs who has had his hands full with some of the top receivers in the league. Of course, Cowboys fans saw first hand that a make-shift group of Philly receivers isn’t enough to derail their offense. Wentz and his crew may have to pull off something similar this week.
4. Great Scott
The Cowboys could catch a break if the Eagles star running back Miles Sanders isn’t able to suit up Sunday night due to a knee injury. The Cowboys run defense has been atrocious as they have allowed over 200 yards on the ground in three of the last four games. They’ve allowed season-highs in each of the last two games to Kenyan Drake and rookie Antonio Gibson.
If Sanders is healthy, he could have a field day with this terrible Cowboys defense. But whether he plays or not, Dallas needs to also concern themselves with receiving back Boston Scott. The Eagles typically do well when he’s involved in the offense. In the three games where he’s had at least 15 touches, Scott has churned out 358 total yards and scored five touchdowns. Philadelphia is 3-0 in those games.
5. Eagles love to play possum
If it feels like the Eagles are even worse than their division-leading 2-4-1 record suggests, it could be because they could’ve easily lost every game they’ve played. Even their two victories features fourth-quarter comebacks, with the most recent one being their Thursday night steal from the New York Giants after they trailed 21-10 with a little over six minutes to go. They even toyed with comebacks against both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens as they went on runs to close the gap, but unfortunately for them, those teams were too good to let it get away.
The Cowboys haven’t been the type of team to get out to early leads. In fact, they’ve trailed by at least two touchdowns in each of their last six games. That is the misery this team has put us through. So, it would only be fitting for them to finally be ahead in a game, only to have the Eagles sneak off and snatch the win.