It is certainly exciting times for the Dallas Cowboys football team. For the team and fans alike. What looked like a sour season after the Week 1 embarrassment has turned into something of a joy ride so far with four straight wins and a 4-1 record. Now, we get to some real fun.
Sunday Night Football. A game against an NFC East rival with the division lead on the line. A chance to give the Philadelphia Eagles their first loss of the season. This is why we watch the NFL.
The Cowboys will travel to Philadelphia, And by everything we see and hear, Dallas will start Cooper Rush once again. Head coach Mike McCarthy has all but said so.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said he considers QB Dak Prescott to be still in the “medical, rehab phase. …We are preparing for Cooper (Rush) to start against the Eagles.” https://t.co/cxyYk5mrVr— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) October 12, 2022
The uncertainty at quarterback has certainly had an impact on the spread for the game. As of the moment of writing this, the Cowboys are currently 6-point underdogs according to DraftKings Sportsbook, a number that ahs grown slightly as it has become more apparent that Prescott will not play.
Let’s take a look at some fast facts about this game.
The Cowboys have dominated their NFC East counterparts for the better part of two years now. Dallas is on an eight-game win streak in the NFC East, which includes victories over the New York Giants and the Washington Commanders this season. Last year the Cowboys clobbered the Eagles by scores of 41-21 and 51-26. Obviously the 2022 Eagles squad is very different from the one last year. It is very doubtful there will be such a lopsided score this week.
With Cooper Rush lined up to start again, you have to think the Cowboys are going to rely on the formula that has gotten them a four-game win streak. Run the ball, help Cooper Rush not to make mistakes, and rely on a stifling defense to do much of the work.
The Cowboys run game was superb last week, racking up 164 rushing yards between Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Elliott needs 38 yards from scrimmage in this game to hit 10,000 for his career. Since the Cowboys have basically abandoned passing to their running backs, especially Elliott, you would have to guess that yardage would have to come from the running game. The Cowboys used Elliott on 22 rushes last week, the most he’s been used since October of 2021 in that respect.
But many Cowboys fans would like to see more of those opportunities go to Tony Pollard. He had an electrifying 57-yard touchdown last week, one of four rushing touchdowns over 40 yards since 2020. That is tied for the most in the league in that span.
The Cowboys and the Eagles played a game similar to this in 1994. Dallas was 4-1 and Philadelphia was 4-1 that year. The Cowboys won that game 24-13, but it was played at the old Texas Stadium instead of on the road in Philadelphia.
This game might just come down to how well the Cowboys defense can control the Eagles offense. If the Cowboys are forced into a shootout, they probably won’t win. They need the defense to allow them to stick with the run on offense.
So far this year, no team has scored over 19 points on the Cowboys. That hasn’t happened since 1972. The Eagles are averaging 27 points per game, good for fifth in the league. The Cowboys allow 14.4 points per game on average, good for third in the league. Something’s gotta give.
One thing Cooper Rush has done, and must continue to do, is not turn the ball over. He hasn’t so far and that has led to the Cowboys being +5 in turnover margin which is second in the NFL. But the Eagles are a +9 in turnover margin, the best mark in the league. Dallas has to win or stay even in this category for a decent shot at a win.
Believe it or not, the most important player may end up being kicker Brett Maher. The Cowboys are not very good at scoring touchdowns so they need their placekicker to pay off some of their drives with three points. Maher has done exactly that.
He is four out of five on field goals of 50 yards or more, tied for most in the NFL. He has the second-most attempts so far in 2022, and he is also second in points scored at 45. Given how the Cowboys play games under Cooper Rush, Maher might be the key to everything on Sunday night.