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Cowboys vs Eagles: Writer predictions for Dallas home opener

Can the Cowboys win, or will Philadelphia do as they were instructed by Nick Sirianni’s shirt?

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Cowboys and Eagles are each entering Monday night’s contest in Dallas with a record of 1-1, and after the Washington Football Team got blown out by the Bills on Sunday, the winner of this game will have sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

The Cowboys are favored by a field goal in what will be the first game between Dak Prescott and Jalen Hurts, as well as the first game against America’s Team for rookie head coach Nick Sirianni, who seems to be getting into the rivalry already. Dallas is getting Randy Gregory back, but will be without Dorance Armstrong, Bradlee Anae, Keanu Neal, and Donovan Wilson defensively. Meanwhile, the Eagles are without edge rusher Brandon Graham and safety Rodney McLeod on defense, and their offensive line will be without left tackle Jordan Mailata and right guard Brandon Brooks. So how are we feeling about this game over at Blogging the Boys?

When Philadelphia has the ball

Contain Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts may not be the best quarterback in the NFL right now, but he’s an undeniably electric athlete. In the Eagles’ Week 1 win over an admittedly bad Falcons team, Hurts got things going on the ground early, and it opened up a lot of things in the passing game. He finished with 62 yards on the ground and 264 yards through the air with three touchdown passes, although his passes only traveled an average of 3.7 yards past the line of scrimmage.

Hurts’ Week 2 performance was drastically different. The 49ers clamped down on the designed runs for Hurts, forcing him to give the ball off to the Eagles’ running backs instead. In coverage, San Francisco also played up tight on the line of scrimmage, which made Hurts attack down the field more. The result? Hurts barely completed half of his passes and the Eagles offense struggled to get anything going. If Dallas can recreate that attack, they should be able to find some success and prevent Hurts from making big plays.

When Dallas has the ball

Attack the second level of the defense

Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon comes from the Mike Zimmer coaching tree, and through two games his defense has looked very much like the Vikings head coach’s units. Philadelphia plays a ton of split-safety zone coverage and rarely blitzes. Conceptually, it’s very similar to what this Cowboys offense saw last week in Los Angeles. The difference is Philly doesn’t have players like Joey Bosa or Derwin James.

Expect Kellen Moore to lean on the run game again, although Philly won’t empty the box as much as the Chargers were doing. Still, the Eagles currently rank 13th in run stop win rate and 18th in run defense DVOA, while the Cowboys are fifth in run block win rate and third in run DVOA. More over, the Eagles’ linebackers have thus far been atrocious in coverage: none of their linebackers have forced an incompletion, while starters Alex Singleton and Eric Wilson are allowing the most yards after catch on this defense. Dak Prescott and his deep arsenal of weapons should be able to take advantage of the linebacking corps with ease on Monday and exploit this defense’s biggest weakness.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

Tom Ryle:

I’m a believer. The offense is cooking for Dallas and Dan Quinn has the defense on the rise. I am even not discouraged by John Fassel’s aggression on the field, although he could tone it down a bit behind the mic. But I think Micah Parsons is going to be a persistent and effective threat to Jalen Hurts, Dak will be as prolific as need be, and the Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard tag team are going to bedevil another defense. It’s time to get over the one score games, and there is no better opponent to do that than Philly.

Give me the Cowboys winning 34-23.

Terence Watson:

The Cowboys will look to build on their victory against the Chargers last week in a matchup against a division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. While many have focused on the injuries on the Cowboys roster, the Eagles are dealing with their own set of injury issues. Top pass rusher Brandon Graham is out for the season with an Achilles injury last week and the team as a whole has been dealing with a virus making its way around the building with Fletcher Cox and Hassan Ridgeway the latest to have to miss practice.

They will be without starting left tackle Jordan Mailata (knee). With that being said the Cowboys will be relying upon the returning Randy Gregory and rookie Micah Parsons to handle pass rushing duties and with that speed I can see them putting pressure on quarterback Jalen Hurts all night long. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on the other hand should have a bit more time in the pocket to hit his receivers this week.

Prediction: Cowboys 28, Eagles 17.

Justin Morris:

Nick Sirianni’s “Beat Dallas” shirts are going to have to go through an intense wash cycle. It’s put up or shut up time for the Philadelphia Eagles, and while their mouths have been open all week, Dallas’ play will do the most talking Monday. The Eagles are currently ranked second in passing yards allowed, but they haven’t faced an offense as potent as the one led by Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore. Look for the ’Boys to continue their trend of starting fast, and score a TD in the first quarter.

Their defense will hold steadfast with at least one turnover, and Dallas will begin their home stand with a comfortable win, 28-14.

Matt Holleran:

If the Cowboys want to be considered a true playoff contender, this is a game they should win fairly easily. The Eagles have started the season playing pretty well, but the Cowboys are the better team. I think the Cowboys come out and show the world they are on a different level than the Eagles. Dak Prescott tosses 3TD passes, Zeke hits the 100 yard rushing mark for the first time this season and the defense forces two more turnovers.

Give me the Cowboys, 34-20.

Darreck Kirby:

Dallas’s front seven is dangerously thin at this point and the Eagles appear to be better than expected entering the season. With that said, Jalen Hurts and his receiving corps is not on the same level as Dak and his receivers, so long as Amari Cooper is available and plays near his typical production. The defense doesn’t need to be great. It just needs to limit damage and create a turnover or two.

If it can do that, Dallas takes it 27-23.

Aidan Davis:

This is the hardest Cowboys game to predict thus far. Winning by twenty points and losing by double-digits are both on the table for Dallas when these two teams square off. While the Eagles defense has drastically improved under Jonathan Gannon, the Cowboys offense presents the most threatening test yet, especially through the air. However, despite the Philadelphia defense looking solid through two weeks, they have surrendered yards on the ground. A healthy dose of Pollard and Elliott, paired with Dak testing the Eagles’ secondary, should allow the Cowboys offense to produce points.

But Jalen Hurts no longer looks like a rookie quarterback, through two weeks he has exceeded expectations. Even so, the one aspect of Hurts’ game the Cowboys can take advantage of is his propensity to hold onto the ball in the pocket. With Parsons and Gregory coming off the edge, they will need to finish the play and produce sacks. Expect a close game with a lot of scoring.

Dallas Cowboys 31, Philadelphia Eagles 27.

Tony Catalina:

The home opener looks to be a good one. Monday night, against a hated division rival to try and bring the early season record above .500, this is going to be a fun one. Both teams are dealing with issues as far as ability is concerned at some key positions. Both teams are going to look and jump out early on one another and try and control this game from the start. Dallas will look more like they did in week two when they leaned on the run and took what the defense gave them in the passing game.

I see it being close like most of these division games are but the Cowboys are the better team, in a wild home environment and they find a way to pull away from the Eagles to take home their first division win of the season.

Brian Martin:

The battle for the NFC East is on the line for these two bitter division rivals this week. The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles don’t play again until Week 17 and by then there’s a good chance one of these two teams have already locked up the division. This Monday Night Football contest could very well be the only meaningful game these two ball clubs play against one another this year. As such, there’s a lot on the line despite it being so early in the season. I’m expecting a slobber knocker type of game, and even though the Cowboys are dealing with several injuries to key players, I think this is a matchup that favors them a little bit more playing their first game this year on their home turf.

Final score prediction: 27-17 Cowboys.

David Howman:

This one is pretty simple for me. The Eagles looked good against a terrible Falcons team, and then looked below average against a slightly-above-average 49ers team. Meanwhile, the Cowboys nearly beat the Buccaneers and pulled out a win against a Chargers team that just knocked off the Chiefs.

I’m not ready to book any Super Bowl plans, but it’s pretty obvious who the better team is in this one. Dallas has the better coaching staff, better quarterback, and homefield advantage. Unless they beat themselves (which would be classic Dallas), the Cowboys get a win here.

Cowboys win 34-17.