The Cowboys have already played two of their division rivals this year, going 2-0 against the Giants and Commanders. But now they get to take on the Eagles on the road on Sunday Night Football. Philadelphia is the NFL’s lone undefeated team, but as DeMarcus Lawrence so eloquently put it, they have yet to play America’s Team:
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence when asked about Eagles QB Jalen Hurts playing better this season: "Has he played us? All right. Different teams run different schemes. ... All y'all need to write is he hasn't played the Cowboys yet, so we don't know how good is he."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 13, 2022
That will soon change, and so too will the power balance in the NFC. A win for the Eagles could solidify their place as the top team in the conference, but the Cowboys could jump into first if they score a fifth straight win. What do our writers think will happen?
When Philadelphia has the ball
Stop the run
The Eagles have been having success on offense in a variety of ways, but make no mistake about it: this is a run-first offense. Jalen Hurts has made strides as a passer this year, but much of that has to do with the run game; Hurts’ ability to hurt a defense with his legs opens things up in the passing lanes.
No NFL team has run the ball more through these first five weeks than Philadelphia. But for how great this Dallas defense has been, they’ve struggled against the run. They’re 18th in defense DVOA and are allowing the 12th most yards per carry. But four of the Eagles’ five starters on the offensive line have been limited in practice this week with injuries. That, along with some inside information from Jason Peters, might give the Cowboys enough of an advantage to slow down this rushing attack, and in turn, the Eagles offense as a whole.
When Dallas has the ball
Commit to the run
Sensing a common theme here? Both of these teams like to run the ball, and both have done it well to start the year. The Cowboys are ninth in rushing DVOA and have managed to tread water offensively with an efficient attack on the ground. Meanwhile, the Eagles are 20th in run defense DVOA, leaving a weakness to be exploited.
The Eagles have mostly survived this, though, because they spend so much time playing with a lead that opponents rarely run the ball against them; in fact, this Eagles defense has seen the second fewest rushing attempts on the year, but they’re allowing the fifth most yards per carry. The Cowboys should be able to run it successfully, but they’ll need to stay committed to the run in order to have a chance at moving the ball consistently.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (3-2):
The Cowboys come into this game as a big underdog, the second week in a row for that. It is easy to understand why with the way the offense struggled against the Rams last week. They have to do better against the Eagles.
But the Dallas D is on a roll and almost completely shut down LA last week. I think they will come up with answers for Jalen Hurts and company, and the Cowboys should win another relatively low scoring affair.
Cowboys win, 23-16.
Tony Catalina (2-3):
It is entirely possibly the Cowboys lose this football game. Even if Dak were playing it is still a quality division foe in a hostile environment and those always present unique challenges for a team. My head says that the feel good moment of Rush has to come to an end at some point right? No way Rush does a clean sweep in his starts before Dak’s return, can’t be…right?
Wrong. I think Rush elevates his game one more level and is able to produce just enough offense production to win another one in an important early season divisional clash. The defense is going to be the first real test the Eagles will face and we will see Hurts revert back to some old things we saw from him last year.
This defense once again proves they are special and the Cowboys win 27-13.
Matt Holleran (1-4):
We’re in for a good one on Sunday night. I think this matchup between the Cowboys and Eagles will be extremely competitive and go right down the wire. If the Cowboys want to win this game, they’ll need their defense to not just be very good, but great.
That means taking the football away from the Eagles and maybe scoring some points of their own. I see Dallas’ defense doing that, and their offense doing just enough to keep them in the game. However, in the end Philadelphia makes one more play on offense than the Cowboys, getting the win on a last-second field goal.
Give me the Eagles, 20-17.
Brandon Loree (4-1):
In 2014 the Dallas Cowboys lost Week 1 to the San Francisco 49ers. After everyone in the media wrote them off, they did what seemed impossible and rattled off four wins. People still weren’t taking them seriously. That is until Week 6. Dallas had to fly into the most hostile environment and play the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. With the media against the Cowboys again, somehow, some way, Dallas won, and everyone started to believe in this team at 5-1.
The parallels are the same as the Cowboys play Philadelphia this weekend. They are playing in a hostile environment against a tough defense that has a mobile quarterback and has Super Bowl aspirations. Belief can be a secret weapon in these games. If the locker room believes they’re the better team, they will find a way to win.
Just like in 2014, Dallas will somehow, someway, shock the world and win 17-16 against the Eagles and improve to 5-1. The NFL will finally take the 2022 Cowboys seriously.
Matthew Arizzi (2-3):
In my opinion, the key to this game is putting pressure on Jalen Hurts. If the Cowboys can blitz and do it successfully, I think they have a good shot. Betting on Dan Quinn’s defensive game plans feels like a winning recipe, but the other side of the ball may present some problems.
The Eagles defense can turn the ball over, but Cooper Rush has been good and not giving the ball away. If the Cowboys can win the turnover battle, I like their chances, but I think that’s a tall task. Philadelphia is rolling and even though they were shaky last week, I’ll take the Eagles on the premise of not trusting our offense enough to keep pace.
Mike Poland (4-0):
This one is all about the run game. If the Cowboys defense can stay on top, force Hurts to throw and be less effective on the ground they stand a chance. The Eagles offense predicates itself on screen passes and establishing the run to set up the play action and RPO’s. So the Cowboys defense needs to be less aggressive and more smart.
On offense the Cowboys need to establish the run themselves. The Eagles do not do a bad job of creating pressures from their defensive line on passing plays, but allow an average of 5.0 yards per run. That ranks in the bottom 10. Why the Eagles get away with it is by scoring early and fast, lean on the rush attack, make opposing teams have to abandon the run.
Cowboys win 24-14.
Paul Stewart (3-0):
This is going to be the biggest challenge for the Cowboys, offensively and defensively. I do think our defense is better than the Eagle’s defense, I do think giving the right game plan our offense can outscore the Eagles. I also believe our defense will get points on the board again as my bold prediction we will see a pick 6.
Cowboys win, 21-16.
Brian Martin (4-1):
Call it wishful thinking or just a gut feeling, but I believe the Dallas Cowboys get the better of the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night. The Eagles may be the only undefeated team in the league, but they’ve only played one team, the 4-1 Minnesota Vikings, so for this season with a winning record.
On top of that, they have yet to play a defense as good as Dallas’ and I think that will be the difference in this Week 6 matchup. I’m predicting it will be a tough fault game, but one the Cowboys win in the end.
Cowboys win, 26-17.
RJ Ochoa (3-2):
This past month has been one of the strangest that I have ever seen with the Dallas Cowboys. They have proven that they, in the best way possible, are in no way predictable. I think the best part about what the Cowboys have done over these last four weeks is given hope to the idea that you can trust them in an unrealistic sense again. We are all fans and sometimes allow that to impact our assessment but obviously do our best to be objective.
I’m letting my bias show here because the Cowboys have restored my confidence in being able to. Give me Dallas over one of the bird teams (it’s stupid that they claim that word to themselves).
Cowboys win, 22-19. Vamonos.
David Howman (4-1):
This game will ultimately boil down to whether or not the Cowboys defense can stop the Eagles from running all over them. Nobody seems to have noticed, but the Eagles’ passing game has been showing cracks lately: Hurts has gotten away with several near picks and his receivers have dropped five passes in the last two games. And this Dallas secondary is easily the best they’ll have played so far this year.
But if Philly’s run game gets going, the only way the Cowboys will be able to score enough points to keep up with them is if Dak Prescott makes a surprise start (which hasn’t been ruled out). With the Eagles offensive line very banged up, though, I think we’ll see a great day from the run defense, which will make it a game these Cowboys are well accustomed to winning.
Cowboys win, 17-13.