One of the most heated rivalries in the NFL kicks off again this Sunday with the Cowboys traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. While the Eagles hold the best record in football at 7-1, they’ve struggled as of late with a loss to the Jets and a narrow victory over the Commanders.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have won two straight since getting embarrassed by the 49ers, and this is their next shot at showing what they can do against a highly-regarded team. And, of course, the race for the NFC East title looms large in this one, as Dallas and Philadelphia figure to be the only two contenders once again. Do our writers think the Cowboys can pull off the upset in a notoriously hostile environment? Let’s find out.
When Philadelphia has the ball
Make Jalen Hurts win with his arm
This is not to say that Jalen Hurts can’t win games with his arm - in fact, he has - but the Eagles offense has been much more erratic when Hurts simply drops back to pass. Their groove is built off the run game, and specifically the threat of Hurts running the ball himself. That’s made his play-action game so devastating for defenses to go up against.
But Hurts’ designed rushes are down this year. In 2022, Hurts accounted for 27.4% of the Eagles’ designed run plays, and this year he’s only at 23.5%. The Eagles have also used less play-action, and six of Hurts’ eight interceptions this year have come on plays with no play-action. He struggled heavily against the Jets earlier this year because the defense took away the run game - running backs averaged 2.4 yards a carry - which allowed the pass rush to tee off on Hurts on expected passing downs. If the Cowboys can force Hurts into the same conundrum, they’ll stand a chance of limiting this talented offense.
When Dallas has the ball
Win with Dak Prescott’s arm
This isn’t the Eagles defense we’ve become accustomed to. Philadelphia ranks in the bottom half of the league of nearly every defensive metric this year. The lone exception? Their run defense, which leads the NFL in run defense DVOA. This defensive front is much younger now, with Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, and rookie Jalen Carter all playing big roles, but they’re still capable of dominating the line of scrimmage.
Fortunately, the Cowboys just faced a similar situation in Aaron Donald and the Rams. And while Dak Prescott got sacked a few times early on, the offense quickly settled into a groove and aired things out with great success. The Eagles actually rank just one spot below the Rams in pass defense DVOA, and their coverage schemes are incredibly similar. If Mike McCarthy calls this game with the same approach as last week, and Prescott performs the way he usually does against the Eagles, there should be an explosion of points for the Cowboys.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (4-3):
This game may be even bigger than we anticipated before the season. Whoever wins will not only have the upper hand in the NFC East, they will be in the driver’s seat to get to the number one seed in the conference. Both bring talented rosters to the game. The Eagles have been winning a lot of close games, while the Cowboys have been feast or famine in every contest except the Chargers one.
I’m going to roll with Dallas heading in a positive direction after the bye, and pick them to beat Philly by 11 points.
Tony Catalina (6-1):
This is a game that could change the course of their season. Not necessarily with a loss as they would still have everything in front of them as far as Wild Card seeding and playoffs go, but a win on Sunday could start a real interesting time in the race for the NFC East.
After this the Eagles have a bye followed by games against the Chiefs and Bills. Meanwhile the Cowboys have dates with the Giants, Panthers, and Commanders. A win on Sunday would put the Cowboys in the drivers seat for the division and that’s why this week means so much. Ultimately, after the 49ers debacle I need to see it to believe it.
I would love to be wrong, but give me the Eagles 26, Cowboys 24.
Matt Holleran (5-2):
If we were basing our predictions solely off last week’s performance I’d pick the Cowboys to win this game easily. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and I just don’t trust the Cowboys to look like the same team they did a week ago on Sunday.
I see the Eagles’ run game leading the way and Jalen Hurts connecting with A.J. Brown on some big-time third-down conversions. Dallas’ offense struggles to block the talented Eagles’ front and is unable to get in a rhythm. It pains me to do this but I think the Eagles win this one and I don’t see it being all that close.
Give me the Eagles, 27-17.
Brandon Loree (5-2):
This week it’s going to be short and sweet with some bold predictions:
Dak Prescott - 21/31, 213 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
CeeDee Lamb - 11 rec, 101 yards, 1 TD
Tony Pollard - 15 att, 76 yards, 2 TD
Micah Parsons - 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Malik Hooker - 1 INT
Brandon Aubrey - 1/1 in FG attempts, 4/4 PATs
Cowboys win a nail biter in Philly, 31-27
Matthew Lenix (5-2):
The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles will have their starting quarterbacks this time around in this NFC East showdown. For Dallas, it’s another test against one of the teams that’s in their way in the NFC, and they don’t want the same results from the debacle against the San Francisco 49ers.
Although the Eagles are at home and are dominant on both lines of scrimmage, but the Cowboys have to show that they can beat the best teams in the biggest moments. Jalen Hurts throws a few interceptions while CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks will thrive off Dak Prescott’s play-action game.
The Cowboys win 28-20.
Mike Poland (5-2):
The Cowboys have scored ten passing touchdowns this season, that’s tenth-most in the league. The Eagles defense have allowed 16 passing touchdowns this season, third-worst in the league. The Eagles defense has only managed to corral four interceptions, which is the second-fewest in the league this year. This makes for a game for Dak and his receivers to shine and win the day. Helping with confidence that Dak can deliver, he’s 8-2 against the Eagles in his career so the odds are in his favor.
Cowboys win 35-24.
Brian Martin (5-2):
My gut is telling me the Dallas Cowboys lose this week, but for whatever reason I’m going against my gut. The fact that the Washington Commanders have nearly beat the Philadelphia Eagles twice already this season makes me believe the Cowboys can secure the “W”, despite playing on the road in hostile territory. For that reason alone I’m going with the Cowboys.
Cowboys win 24-20.
RJ Ochoa (6-1):
This is obviously a big week for the Cowboys, but it does not feel as scary as the last one did. By no means am I willing to underestimate or overlook the Eagles because they are immensely talented, but there is a lot of history that shows how Dak Prescott and the Cowboys excel against them. I am confident that this will not be easy but I am willing to take the Cowboys in a moment such as this.
Give me Dallas, 27-23.
David Howman (4-3):
I’ve been down on the Eagles all year, and not just because I’m a biased Cowboys fan. They’re a genuinely talented football team, but they’re also inherently beatable and have benefited from a soft schedule to start the year. There are a few glaring holes on this team that can be exploited with a combination of good coaching and talented players.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say the Cowboys have both those things, though I am still nervous after that 49ers game. Still, this team has shown a ton of progress since that game, and as long as they don’t choose this week to completely turn away from what’s been working, I see this turning into a statement win for Dallas.
Cowboys win 38-21.