Both teams have already clinched a playoff spot, so there isn’t much to play for on either side. Before the two teams square off in their regular-season finale, here are three bold predictions for Saturday’s matchup.
1) Ezekiel Elliott touches the ball less than eight times
A big topic of conversation this week has been debating if the Cowboys should play or rest their starters Saturday night against Philadelphia. Our very own Tom Ryle and David Howman debated the topic and gave some great insight into what the Cowboys should ultimately do.
Outside of the quarterback, if there’s one player that should not play on Saturday it’s Ezekiel Elliott. The former All-Pro running back won’t be sitting completely, as he did come out publicly and say he will play in this game, but that doesn’t mean the Cowboys should let him see the field very much.
Elliott is currently going through the worst statistical stretch of his career. In the last ten games, he has ran the ball 117 times for 394 yards, an abysmal 3.37 Y/A average. While you can’t peg Elliott’s nagging knee injury as the sole reason the Cowboys have struggled so much in the run game, it certainly has played a factor.
It’s clear to anyone watching there is a big difference between the healthy Elliott we saw the first six weeks of the season and the guy we see now. In fact, Elliott ran for more yards in the first six games of the year (521), when healthy, than he has in his last 10 games (394) while banged up.
The Cowboys shouldn’t even have Elliott active in this game, but being the warrior that he is he’s going to want to play. Even if he does, there is zero reason to have him touch the ball more than two-to-three times.
Kellen Moore and Mike McCarthy will come to the realization that playing Elliott in this game will do nothing but potentially make his injury worse, and he’ll touch the ball less than eight times on Saturday night.
2) Minus Micah Parsons, the Dallas defense still records four sacks
While the Cowboys defense didn’t play poorly last week, they certainly didn’t play up to the level that they had during December. After what they would call a disappointing performance, we’re going to see the defense bounce back in a big way on Saturday.
With not much to play for, Philly could have a backup quarterback and backup offensive linemen in for most of this game. Even without Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Co. are going to put constant pressure on the Eagles all night long, no matter who is playing for the Eagles.
When the two teams matched up in Week 3, rookie defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa had a big day, recording two sacks. This Saturday we’ll see Odighizuwa get back on the board, registering his first sack since Week 4.
Dallas puts pressure on the Eagles all night long, resulting in four sacks and a great bounce-back effort for the defense.
3) The Cowboys make it out of the game with no significant injuries
This one might be more of a hope than a prediction, but here are some good vibes for Saturday night. With so much help needed to move out of the No. 4 seed, it really does not make much sense for the Cowboys to play their starters in this game. Dallas has already ruled out three significant players, Trevon Diggs, Tony Pollard, and Jayron Kearse for the game.
CB Trevon Diggs (illness), S Jayron Kearse (hamstring) and RB Tony Pollard (foot) are not traveling to Philadelphia. They have been ruled out for Cowboys-Eagles.— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 7, 2022
S Donovan Wilson (illness) is not traveling with the team today but remains questionable.
Despite this, everything we’ve seen so far from Mike McCarthy and players has made it seem like they have no plan to rest their starters. If this is the case, the Cowboys better pray that none of their starters suffer a serious injury. If they do, it could end up costing them their season.
Even though many don’t agree with the decision, it could pay off if Dallas wins the game and they are able to escape with no injuries. This predictions says the Cowboys beat Philly and make it out with no key injuries.