The Dallas Cowboys are playing one of the biggest games on their schedule against an NFC East rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys are currently 3-point underdogs in the game according to DraftKings Sportsbook, we spoke with Brandon Lee Gowton at our sister site Bleeding Green Nation to get the lowdown on the Eagles.
Blogging The Boys: So give us the overall for the Eagles. From the outside it looks like they haven’t been as good this year as last, but they still keep winning. Fair assessment?
Bleeding Green Nation: Here are some numbers that help tell the story.
EAGLES RANKS AFTER EIGHT GAMES
Points scored per game
2022: 2nd (28.1) 2023: 3rd (28.0)
Opponent points scored per game
2022: 3rd (15.9) 2023: 15th (19.6)
Giveaways per game
2022: 0.4 (1st) 2023 1.6 (t-23rd)
Takeaways per game
2022: 2.3 (1st) 2023: 1.3 (t-19th)
The 2023 Eagles are largely the 2022 Eagles with a moderately worse defense and less giveaway/takeaway fortune.
It feels like they’ve yet to play their A-game. There’s potential for them to reach another gear. It’s also possible this is just who they are. We’re certainly going to learn a lot more about this group with a very tough stretch of games ahead.
BTB: There is plenty of talk about Jalen Hurts and the turnovers this year. What is causing them and how much have they hurt the Eagles offense?
BGN: Multiple factors.
Some of them have just been bad luck. Last week he got charged with a fumble loss on the Brotherly Shove, which is almost always an unstoppable play for the Eagles. He had a screen pass to Dallas Goedert get bobbled to create an interception against the New York Jets.
Some of them have been really good plays by defensive backs. There was an interception in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game and another from the Los Angeles Rams where he didn’t even throw a bad ball as much as a defender made an incredible leaping pick along the sideline.
Some of them have been bad decisions. The Eagles’ sole loss this year came when Hurts inexplicably and uncharacteristically threw right at a Jets defender late in the game. Hurts lost a fumble in the Miami Dolphins matchup when he held the ball for way too long and got strip-sacked.
As you can see from my first answer, the Eagles’ offense has still been able to score a lot despite these mistakes. If they can clean up these issues, there’s potential to put up points at an even higher clip.
I tend to think Hurts will figure it out at some point. Dating back to college, he’s never been an especially turnover prone quarterback. But it’s harder and harder to give him the benefit of the doubt if the numbers don’t go down soon.
BTB: What was behind the trade for Kevin Byard and how will he fit into the defense?
BGN: The Eagles were thin at safety. There was a point in Week 6 when multiple injuries had them down to Terrell Edmunds, a struggling player on the veteran minimum, and Mekhi Garner, a practice squad cornerback elevated to play out of position as an emergency option.
Acquiring Byard for such a relatively cheap cost was a no-brainer. Pairing a two-time All-Pro with rising standout Reed Blankenship, who is now healthy, will potentially turn safety from a position of weakness into a strength.
Of course, it could take some time since Byard needs to get adjusted to a new defense on the fly. And he’ll have extra time to do so with the bye week coming up after Sunday’s game.
That won’t help Byard against the Cowboys. But perhaps his familiarity from previously playing against Dak Prescott will? Byard has picked off the Cowboys’ quarterback three times in two games.
BTB: How has rookie Jalen Carter looked this year and do you think the injury will affect him this week?
BGN: Carter has been way better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected. He already looks like an elite player at his position.
There are only four interior defenders who’ve generated more pressures this year, according to Pro Football Focus: Dexter Lawrence, Aaron Donald, Jeffery Simmons, and Chris Jones. Carter ranks tied for fifth with Jonathan Allen.
The thing is … Carter has only played 200 snaps, which is considerably less playing time than his peers have logged. Here’s how the group ranks when dividing snaps by pressures generated:
1 - Carter 7.142
2 - Lawrence: 8.393
3 - Jones: 10.104
4 - Donald 11.185
5 - Simmons: 13.916
6 - Allen: 16.14
Carter is a beast.
It’s unclear if the back injury will slow him down. No injury is ever a comforting thought but a back issue seems especially bad (shout out Tony Romo). That being said, Carter was a full participant in practice all week, so that seems like a good sign.
The Eagles really need Carter to make a big impact in this game. The thinking here is that he might see a bigger workload than normal given the importance of this game.
BGN: I do think that’s fair; it’s a coin flip game between two relatively even-matched teams.
I worry about the Cowboys being able to take advantage of the Eagles’ unclear nickel cornerback outlook. I worry about the Eagles’ turnover issues continuing and the Cowboys being able to capitalize on them.
I feel good about the Eagles being able to win in the trenches. I feel good about Jalen Hurts being 23-3 in his last 26 starts. I feel good about home field advantage giving the Birds a boost.
Ultimately, I think the Eagles find a way to win a close one … 28 to 24.
Thanks for the knowledge, Bleeding Green Nation.