The Cowboys are 0-2 since Dak Prescott went down and have been outscored 63-10 in those two losses. Things may actually get worse, as rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci will make his first career start in place of the concussed Andy Dalton. DiNucci has three passing attempts to his name - as well as three sacks and two fumbles - all in last week’s blowout loss to Washington.
Now, DiNucci is going up against the current NFC East leader on the road in Philadelphia, and facing a defense whose pass rush has been more productive than last week’s Football Team. There’s always the possibility DiNucci could wow us all on primetime television, but the odds aren’t great.
When Philadelphia has the ball
The Cowboys dumped three of their free agent signings on defense this week - Dontari Poe, Everson Griffen, and Daryl Worley - in a sign that they’re no longer tolerating the poor performances this unit has put up. Of course, this defense was also supposed to be generating takeaways, and they’re currently tied with the Raiders for the least defensive takeaways in the league.
However, only the Broncos and Patriots have turned it over more than this Eagles offense; Carson Wentz specifically has a league-leading ten interceptions and his five fumbles are also tied for third-most in the league. The last time this defense faced a turnover-prone quarterback (Daniel Jones) they scored a touchdown on a strip-sack fumble recovery. They’ll need to take advantage of Wentz’s poor ball security to help out this offense.
When Dallas has the ball
Hold onto the ball
The Eagles have turned it over a lot, but the Cowboys are actually tied with them for total turnovers, as a matter of fact, so are the Giants, a hilarious indictment of this division. The point is this offense has struggled to hold onto the ball, and it’s often come at the worst possible time.
Who knows if DiNucci will help put the ball in the endzone - Dalton barely did in his two starts - but it won’t make much of a difference if they continue turning the ball over. If DiNucci holds onto the ball and makes smart decisions, and if big-name players like Ezekiel Elliott play up to their billing, it’ll be a significant step forward for a unit that’s looked incompetent these last two weeks.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Normally, there is nothing more exciting than a date with the Eagles on Sunday Night. Now, we’re just hoping to get out of the city of brotherly love without a week long ridicule that would accompany an embarrassing prime time loss. I don’t really care about the outcome, but I want this team to fight. I want to see quick passing plays drawn up to keep Ben DiNucci off his backside. I want to see more creative play design that features a two-headed rushing attack of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
But most importantly, I want to see this defense man their base, and make open field tackles like real football players. As bad as this Cowboys football team is, they have to string together a little bit of good football under the lights. Look for the Cowboys to slowly grind themselves out a 13-10 lead, only to eventually watch the wheels come off in the second half. The Eagles love to lull teams into thinking they’re dreadful, only to prove to them later that they’re actually so-so.
Eagles 27, Cowboys 13.
Here’s my saddest thing about this woeful season for the Cowboys: I don’t care about winning. I’ve not been shy about writing this year off, and am torn between the ongoing desire to see the Eagles lose and the obvious benefits of high draft picks for Dallas. Mostly, though, I am so disgusted by the terrible on field performances that my interest is severely depressed.
While the possible return of Sean Lee might help a bit with an obvious leadership void for the defense, I am still fairly confident that Carson Wentz will sadly have a good day. And as intrigued as I have been about Ben DiNucci, that does not extend to wanting to see him starting for the Cowboys this early in his career. I figure this one will go a lot like the last one.
Eagles 27 Cowboys 6
Does anyone else have a little voice in their head saying that the Cowboys have a chance to get a win this week? If you do, don’t listen to him this week because the Cowboys offensive line is facing off against another very talented defensive front in the Eagles. Getting back Zack Martin will help but he can’t be everywhere at once.
Rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci is also going to have to try and beat defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz who you can almost guarantee is going to be disguising coverages to confuse the young QB. It’s not going to be pretty this week as I have the Eagles taking this one in a blowout.
Eagles 33, Cowboys 10
In the NFL, when everyone seems to know something, the opposite tends to happen. The Dallas Cowboys have been an absolute disaster this season, but at some point, they’ll get one or two lucky breaks. Those will come this Sunday against the Eagles.
I don’t know how this defense will get turnovers against Carson Wentz, or how rookie Ben DiNucci will fair as the likely starter, but they’re going to win this game. The Cowboys have been pronounced dead in October, but on this Halloween weekend, they’ll rise out of the grave, at least for one more week. Give me the Cowboys 24-23.
Carson Wentz likely has his best game of this season against this putrid defense. Sean Lee’s return gives them a mental edge, but it’s humorous to imagine him keeping up with the likes of Dallas Goedert. What was an incredibly bad job in stopping the run vs. Washington hugely projects to get worse against more capable rushing threats, and Jalen Reagor’s eminent reemergence is terrible news for a secondary that will already have tremendous struggles handling Travis Fulgham.
On offense, multiple touchdowns are hard to foresee after the team posted just three points against the Football Team. I do think that Kellen Moore will figure out a way to get into the end zone at least once though (maybe that’s just wishful thinking), but it projects to be another sad day for the Dallas faithful.
Eagles 24, Cowboys 10
I’ve somehow done the unthinkable and talked myself into believing in the Cowboys this week. The Eagles have a better pass rush than Washington, but a much worse secondary kind of offsets it, and Mike McCarthy has talked up DiNucci’s mobility enough this week to make me think they’ll be moving the pocket a lot on offense.
On the other side of things, I don’t trust Carson Wentz not to turn the ball over at least once, even against this defense. Sean Lee is expected to return to the field, and guys like Jourdan Lewis and Trevon Diggs seem like good candidates to be beneficiaries of Wentz’s ball security problems. In the end, I see the Cowboys just barely edging out the Eagles in a sloppy game that will fully encapsulate how stupid the NFC East is this year.
Cowboys 22, Eagles 17.