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Cowboys vs. Eagles: Writer predictions for Christmas Eve showdown

Can the Cowboys shut down Gardner Minshew?

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Fans of the Dallas Cowboys have been looking forward to this game since the clock expired on the last matchup between these teams. Now that it’s here, the actual contest is somewhat lacking in stakes, but it’s still one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL.

Jalen Hurts has been officially ruled out for this week, so Gardner Minshew will make his first start since Week 18 of last year, when he lost 51-26 to these Cowboys. Will this game end up in a similar manner? Let’s find out what our writers think.

When Philadelphia has the ball

Show some smarts and discipline

Nobody really knows what to expect from this offense with Gardner Minshew under center. The Eagles have been a run heavy offense - they’re second in rushing attempts and first in rushing DVOA - but much of that is because of the way they integrate Jalen Hurts’ running ability into the scheme. Minshew can’t simply run the same offense, although it’s likely the Eagles will still run the ball plenty.

This Dallas run defense took a step back last week without Johnathan Hankins or Leighton Vander Esch, and the linebacker duo of Anthony Barr and Damone Clark frequently got fooled by misdirection plays. Minshew can definitely hurt a defense with his arm - he’s especially adept at avoiding pressure - but taking away the run game will be a big part of thwarting this offense. To do that, the defense will need to be more fundamentally sound than they were against Jacksonville.

When Dallas has the ball

Run this defense off the field

The Eagles have a fierce pass rush and a very good secondary behind it, but their run defense is severely lacking. Philadelphia is second in pass defense DVOA but 20th in run defense DVOA. The Cowboys have been one of the best rushing teams in the league, currently fifth in rushing DVOA, and should be in good shape to see success on the ground.

One reason why the Eagles haven’t been more abused on the ground is the fact that they get leads so early, forcing teams to abandon the run. It’s notable that three of the Eagles’ six wins by one score or less this year - as well as their lone loss - have come against teams in the top 10 in rushing attempts this year. Unlike the last matchup between these teams, Dallas has a quarterback that can keep the secondary honest, allowing them to run this defense off the field consistently. If they can do that, they’ll be set up for success.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

Tom Ryle (9-5):

We don’t know for sure if Jalen Hurts is playing, but even assuming he is not, this is a tough game for Dallas. The defense was badly exposed in the second half of the Jags game. We wait to see if T.Y. Hilton will turn the WR corps from the Lone Ranger to a multi-pronged threat. And the whole team needs a boost after that debacle.

I think they get it with a 31-20 win.

Tony Catalina (8-6):

What a turn of events this game has taken over the last couple weeks. First the Cowboys lose to the Jaguars then Jalen Hurts gets injured and will not play, setting this game up to be much different than we thought it was going to be. Nonetheless there is still plenty at stake. Dallas wants to get back to their winning ways and still keep everything they want as far as playoff seeding alive, and for the Eagles a win and they secure the 1 seed.

This game may has lost its shine but it should be a fun watch regardless. Gardner Minshew isn’t a slouch but ultimately I think the Cowboys defense has enough to prove this week that they will go out there and take care of business.

Give me the Cowboys 23, Eagles 16.

Matt Holleran (7-7):

I think we’re going to be in for a shootout on Christmas Eve. Even without Jalen Hurts, I see the Eagles putting up points against a banged-up Cowboys’ defense. I also see Dallas’ offense putting up another very solid performance and scoring 28+ points.

In the end, I see this game coming down to the final possession, where Dallas’ signal-caller, Dak Prescott, makes one more play than Gardner Minshew. Dak leads Dallas down the field to kick a game-winning FG, in one of the more exiting matchups of the 2022 season.

Give me the Cowboys, 30-27.

Brandon Loree (9-5):

Even though Jalen Hurts won’t be playing in this game, Gardner Minshew has the potential to be the Grinch. The Cowboys know firsthand how beneficial it is to have a backup quarterback familiar with the offensive system…(Cooper Rush). This is Minshew’s second season in Philadelphia, and he has a better cast of characters to work with this time. The Cowboys will win if they turn up the pass rush and force Minshew to make a mistake.

I need to see that the Dallas run defense is better and that the cornerback situation has a solution. My Christmas wish for this game is that there are NO MORE injuries. The Cowboys lost the first matchup with Philly because of costly turnovers. This should be a vintage game for Dak Prescott, where he throws for 250+ yards and 2 TDs.

Give me the Cowboys winning 27-21.

Matthew Arizzi (9-4):

This is the game that was circled in week 5. This was the game that everyone thought would decide the division. If I told you Gardner Minshew was starting and this game is rather meaningless in favor of the Eagles, you probably wouldn’t believe me.

The Eagles are a better team than the Cowboys. That discussion is over and if you take off the blockers, it’d be a consensus among fans. Look for the run game to be heavily relied on, though. David Montgomery and Justin Fields both had good games on the ground last week and I expect the same for TP and Zeke this week. Dak needs to limit the turnovers, that’s a must, and I think he does here. Give me the Cowboys.

Cowboys 24, Eagles 20.

Mike Poland (10-3):

Such a shame the sparkle from this game has sort been lost after the Cowboys lose to the Jags, and the Eagles have to sit Hurts. With the Eagles only needing one win in the next three weeks, the best the Cowboys can hope is fifth place. The Cowboys win in what will essentially be the final home game for Dallas this season.

Cowboys win 27-23; now someone pass me the egg-nog!

Chris Halling (0-1):

The Dallas Cowboys bounce back against Philadelphia on Christmas Eve, this Saturday. With no Jalen Hurts, the defense quiets the Eagles strong run game, and limit big plays for their offense. QB Dak Prescott bounces back big, throwing for four touchdowns. The Eagles can not keep up with the Cowboys offense, Dallas wins handedly, giving Cowboys nation an early Christmas present.

Cowboys win 41-17.

LP Cruz:

The wind was knocked out of the Cowboys sails after losing to Jacksonville in the way that they did and to be frank, it took some of the vigor out of this rivalry game with Philadelphia. That said, despite being behind the Eagles in the standings, this is a bitter rival and Cowboys Nation needs this win for a variety of reasons.

No Jalen Hurts, means no extra running threat and the Cowboys can pin their ears and go get it. I expect Demarcus Lawrence to set up shop in the Eagles backfield and think Daron Bland keeps exceeding expectations, getting another turnover. The offense commits to the running game and Ezekiel Elliott finds the end zone.

Cowboys win 24-20.

Brian Martin (10-4):

The hot and cold nature of the Dallas Cowboys has my faith in them altering a bit, however, I’m hoping the disappointing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week is the slap in the face they needed to wake them up. Give me the Cowboys in a close one over the Eagles this week.

Cowboys win, 24-20.

RJ Ochoa (9-5):

This is perhaps the most weird Cowboys/Eagles game that I have ever seen given the wide-ranging circumstances that are lowering the juice value, so to speak. While Philadelphia technically has more to play for it does sort of seem like they are fine waving a white flag in some respects due to having eyes on the much larger prize. Give me the Cowboys with some conviction.

David Howman (10-4):

The last time Gardner Minshew started a game, he completed less than 60% of his passes and averaged less than six yards per attempt in a game that featured a lot of backups on both sides. Minshew will undoubtedly have a better supporting cast this time around, but he’ll also be facing a much tougher defense. To that point, Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs didn’t even play in that game.

There’s also the fact that the Cowboys have yet to lose consecutive games this season, and Mike McCarthy’s crew has done a great job of responding well after each loss. Two of their losses, both of which featured Dak Prescott playing the next week, were followed up with wins by at least three scores. I think the Cowboys put together a gritty performance on offense and the defense, led by Parsons, bounces back in a big way.

Cowboys win 31-14.

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