It’s time for the Dallas Cowboys to have their first divisional game against the Philadelphia Eagles in a battle of teams dealing with injuries. Both teams have lost their best pass rushers, but the Cowboys have the luxury of possibly getting theirs back later this season. Second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts will look to beat the best quarterback in the division in Dak Prescott. Both teams will look to establish the run with the Cowboys having the advantage through the air with a better corps of receivers for Prescott to throw to. But will that be enough for the Cowboys to overcome their injuries on defense once again?
Let’s see what NFL experts are saying about this game.
Florio’s take: Dallas is hitting an early-season groove. The Eagles will be hitting an early-season wall.
Another short take from Florio but he’s speaking facts.
MDS’s take: Dak Prescott makes one more big play than Jalen Hurts in what should be an exciting NFC East rivalry game.
Hurts will have a more difficult time against this Cowboys defense than people are expecting.
Are the Eagles the team I keep taking to win upsets straight up, which ruins my picks record this season? Tune in Monday night! Even without injured DE Brandon Graham, the Eagles have the defensive line, led by early All-Pro candidate Javon Hargrave, to bother Dak Prescott. More importantly, the Eagles are built offensively to grind the Cowboys’ admittedly energetic and improved defense down to dust.
The injury to Graham will shift the balance of this game in the Cowboys favor.
Dallas running back Tony Pollard will have more than 150 total yards. That’s well within the realm of possibility after he rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown with 31 receiving yards last week against the Chargers. The Eagles’ zone-based scheme forces the opponent to methodically work its way down the field. There are yards to be had in the run game and underneath in the pass game, and Pollard will take advantage.
The Cowboys will attack these linebackers and Pollard will make even more plays than last week.
Can the Cowboys continue to make the explosive play on offense? Through two games, the Cowboys have 35 plays of 10 or more yards, the third most in the NFL. But the Eagles’ defense has not allowed many big plays in its first two games, with just 19 against going for 10 yards or more, which is the third fewest. It’s also worth noting that Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has seven interceptions in eight games against the Eagles, his most against any opponent.
The Eagles have played two games against teams with receivers that are more underneath yards-after-catch players than big-play receivers.
The Cowboys have played two thrillers in two weeks, so Week 3 should be no different. The Eagles have lost their last three road games at Jerry World, but Jalen Hurts will flip the script in a back-and-forth battle with Dak Prescott. Always expect the unexpected with these two.
Hurts won’t win this quarterback duel this week, especially if he doesn’t have his starting left tackle.
The Cowboys offense is substantially better than last year at this time. Credit to Mike McCarthy for giving Kellen Moore a way bigger role in the playcalling. Maybe it took a year of working together sans Dak to actually make this work better. At three I would take the Cowboys. At four? I’m gonna bet on Devonta Smith (aka the new DeSean Jackson) to make life tough for Dallas down to the end. Jalen Hurts is a gamer. This over looks tasty if the Cowboys are at full strength on the offensive line and Nick Sirrianni is using the RPO concepts he busted out in Week 1.
The RPO is one thing that is concerning from the Eagles offense this week.
What you need to know: The Eagles got a field goal to open the scoring in their Week 2 matchup with the 49ers, and then didn’t score again for the next two-and-a-half quarters, until Jalen Hurts finally plunged in from a yard out with the game mostly in hand for San Francisco. Hurts wasn’t great passing the football against San Francisco, but he does seem to be making encouraging progress as the starter. He’ll have to try and attack the Cowboys through the air, as there is plenty of speed up front to try and snuff out athletic quarterbacks, as well as sneaky run plays. Dallas got a character win against the Chargers last week, in a game I seriously did not believe they would win. The fact that the Cowboys held Justin Herbert and a high-powered offense to just 17 points is impressive, even if Herbert occasionally self-destructed in that game thanks to turnovers. It looks like the Cowboys have a star in the versatile Micah Parsons, which would be a nice counterweight to all the offensive talent assembled.
On the spot: Eagles QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts has the speed to make Dallas’ defense pay if its pursuit loses discipline and creates running lanes, but for the Eagles to pull an upset on the road, he’s going to have to at least come close to matching Dak Prescott score for score through the air.
Cowboys RB Tony Pollard: Pollard looks better than Ezekiel Elliott so far. A lot better, in fact. Will the Cowboys go with the hot hand even though he’s the man without the big contract and the name recognition? It might not be the worst idea in the world, unless of course you’re Elliott.
The Cowboys receivers will be the difference in this game and will lead them to a victory.
The range of outcomes in this game includes everything from a low-scoring tight affair to a high-octane shootout. Both offenses have proven they can pile on the points, but both have also been shut down.
However, neither team’s defense is good enough to hold down an opposing offense for an entire game, so we should see second-half fireworks. The Cowboys should have enough at home, but the Eagles winning in a last-second manner is very much in the cards with Jalen Hurts under center.
Randy Gregory and Micah Parsons will have Hurts uncomfortable and running around all night.
We wrap up the week with a deadlocked panel on what feels like another unpredictable and potentially wacky prime-time NFC East matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in Texas.
Gagnon on Philly: “I want nothing to do with that hook. The Eagles have played stout defense, Jalen Hurts has performed like a top-10 quarterback and Philadelphia actually has a much stronger DVOA (ranking eighth) than Dallas (14th). Both teams have several problematic injuries in the trenches, but I don’t see either getting an edge as a result. This is a field goal game one way or another.”
Sobleski on the Cowboys: “Hurts has been impressive in his first year as a full-time NFL starter. However, the Eagles don’t have enough firepower to match the Cowboys’ explosive offense. Dallas currently features the league’s fourth-ranked offense. Dak Prescott may not be 100 percent his old self, but that hasn’t stopped him from throwing for 640 yards in his first two games. The Cowboys have a new weapon in Tony Pollard to go along with Ezekiel Elliott and their exciting trio of wide receivers. It’s difficult to see Philadelphia keeping pace.”
You might want to wait to see if one of those receivers, Amari Cooper, can play despite a rib injury. Or you might want to watch this one for the inevitable NFC East fireworks without sweating a bet with so many questions surrounding both teams.
It’s curious how people are picking the Eagles to win this game, their offense doesn’t have the same firepower as the Cowboys do.
This is the first week in this early season where the Cowboys are the favorite to win. Let’s hope they can deliver on the majority of predictions this week.
Over at NFLPickWatch.com, 85% of the 306 experts polled are picking the Cowboys straight up.
This is a big week for the Dallas Cowboys and an opponent who they obviously know well. We discussed the most important matchups on Monday night, broke down which specific Eagles might be an issue, and went behind enemy lines with our friends at Bleeding Green Nation in our official preview show on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel.
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