Prior to the season, everyone expected Sunday night’s matchup between the Eagles and Cowboys would be a big one. NFC East matchups, especially between the Birds and the ‘Boys, typically are. And that hasn’t changed in recent years with the two teams trading division titles.
This season was expected to provide much of the same. And to a certain extent it has, with Philly entering Week 8 with a half game lead over Dallas.
But to a much broader extent, nothing has gone as planned. Both teams have been decimated by injuries, have looked completely cooked at various points, and have lost more games than they’ve won. Still, first place in the suddenly lowly NFC East is up for grabs on Sunday at the Linc.
“I think the rivalry, it’s always one of the great rivalries in football,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday about his team’s upcoming matchup. “Listen, both teams could be sitting here 6-0 and it would still mean a lot. We’re sitting here with two wins a piece and it still means a lot. That’s the thing about the NFC East. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. Your opponent, whether one team is banged up or one team is not or vice versa or both teams are banged up, both teams are coming in here and they are going to play hard and both teams want to win.
“It’s a great rivalry. I remember in my days back in the Vet when many of you were writing about us then and that rivalry, how important it is to not only both cities, but obviously the City of Philadelphia and the fans, and so it’s very important. Our guys understand that as we prepare for these types of weeks.”
One thing that will certainly be different about this meeting is that the Eagles are a heavy favorite, more so than they’ve been in recent years as the Cowboys are expected to trot out Ben DiNucci at quarterback. That’s part of the reason why the Birds have climbed to 9.5-point consensus favorites, according to TheLines.com. Moreover, it’s why it was literally impossible to find any experts out there picking Dallas to win this game.
Seriously. No one is giving them a chance, despite the two teams having the same number of wins on the season.
We’ve already broken down some matchups to watch and offered up predictions of our own — as well as picks for every game this week. Now, as we do every week, let’s take a look at how the local and national media sees this game playing out…
• PhillyVoice staff: For the first time in a few weeks, our writers are all in agreement with their picks. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out too well for the Eagles this season. Hopefully, that will change on Sunday night against the Cowboys. Here’s what Kyle Neubeck, who sees a 27-13 win for the Birds, had to say…
I continue to have little confidence in this Eagles team — they needed every bit of 60 minutes to take down a dreadful Giants team — but there are reasons for hope. Travis Fulgham has emerged as a legitimate weapon at wide receiver, and with Jalen Reagor looking like he could suit up, the Eagles may suddenly have a nice three-man group of Fulgham-Reagor-Ward to make life easier on Carson Wentz. The QB certainly deserves a bit of credit for Philadelphia’s late comeback last week, too, shrugging off some mid-game struggles to earn a win in the end.
I’m less enthused by the defense, but this Cowboys offense is running out of options and answers with all the injuries throughout the unit. Give me the Birds.
• Inquirer.com: All four of their writers are picking the Eagles to handle their business at home against the Cowboys. Here’s how Les Bowen sees the game playing out…
It’s really important for the Eagles to take a lead and keep it in this game, to not give the downtrodden Cowboys any hope of breaking out of their funk. Looking at the records and the talent levels, this isn’t a mismatch. With the Eagles’ injury situation, they don’t really overmatch anyone in overall talent. …
There are always ways a 2-4-1 team can lose. I guess in this case they would involve the Cowboys’ excellent receiving corps. If the Eagles’ pass rush doesn’t obliterate the patched-together Dallas offensive line, maybe Dalton or DiNucci can just throw it up there, and Amari Cooper, CeedDee Lamb or Michael Gallup can catch it and go. Or the QB can fake a handoff to Zeke Elliott, pitch the ball to a receiver, and watch the yard markers fly by, the way so many teams have done this season. But really, the Eagles’ pass rush should dominate, and the Cowboys should have trouble getting the ball back.
• NJ.com staff: All six of their writers are picking the Eagles over the Cowboys. Here’s what beat writer Mike Kaye has to say about this one…
The Eagles are the best of a bad division and it will show in this game. It won’t matter who is at quarterback for the Cowboys, Andy Dalton or Ben DiNucci, as the Eagles will win convincingly in a game that should be a blowout. The Eagles aren’t a great team, and frankly, their record shows they aren’t a good one, either. That said, they have a bunch of guys coming back after the bye week, and defeating division opponents on national TV in consecutive weeks should put some confidence back in the locker room.
This will be a massive game for quarterback Carson Wentz, who should throw for well more than 300 yards. Also, look for Jalen Hurts to be used with regularity as well. The Eagles’ defense needs to continue to force pressure and turnovers (spoiler: they will in this one).
PICK: Eagles 27, Cowboys 17
• Bleeding Green Nation staff: No surprises here, as it’s another clean sweep with all nine of their writers predicting an Eagles win on Sunday night.
• ESPN staff: The all-Eagles picks continue. For the second week in a row, all 10 of ESPN’s experts are picking the Birds.
• Tim McManus, ESPN.com: Eagles 30, Cowboys 13
• Todd Archer, ESPN.com: Eagles 31, Cowboys 17
• Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Eagles 25, Cowboys 14
With Andy Dalton at quarterback, the Cowboys were the worst team in the NFL for seven quarters. There’s no particular reason to believe that’s going to change if Ben DiNucci gets the start on Sunday night. The Eagles are getting healthier with Jalen Reagor, Jason Peters, Dallas Goedert, Malik Jackson and Miles Sanders all having a chance to return this week. Carson Wentz’s miracle finish against the Giants could prove to be the turning point of Philly’s season. There’s no reason why the Eagles shouldn’t win this game easily and improve as their roster heals itself.
It’s hard to believe that this is a big game, but it is. That’s how bad the NFC East is this season. The Cowboys might be playing with Ben Dinucci with the injury to Andy Dalton. This will be his first start. The problem will be his offensive line against the Eagles front. It won’t be pretty. The Eagles will have a nice offensive showing as well. This will be a blowout.
• Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 27, Cowboys 10
The Cowboys are the NFC equivalent of the Jets — both bad and non-competitive.
• Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk: Eagles 31, Cowboys 14
The NFC East is weak, but the Eagles are clearly the best team in it. They’ll make that clear against the Cowboys.
• USA TODAY Sports staff: All seven of their writers are picking the Eagles. We’re almost done, and still no one has picked the Cowboys to win this game.
• SB Nation staff: Each of their 10 experts are going Eagles over Cowboys on Sunday night.
• Bleacher Report, NFL staff: Eagles 28, Cowboys 14 (Consensus, with all six taking Philly)
How can one possibly back the Dallas Cowboys right now?
Sure, you could argue that the banged-up Philadelphia Eagles aren’t worthy of being a 7.5-point favorite over anyone, but that probably means you should just stay away from Sunday night’s Dallas-Philly matchup altogether.
Don’t mess with the NFC East financially if you don’t have to do so.
But if your hands are tied and you’ve got to pick someone to cover on Sunday Night Football, our crew still unanimously recommends laying the 7.5 points with Philadelphia.
• Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: Each week, former Eagles beat writer Sheil Kapadia (now a national football writer for The Athletic) makes picks against the spread for every game. This week, he’s taking the Cowboys to cover the 9-point spread. But don’t worry, we reached out to Sheil and he’s still picking the Birds to win outright, 23-16, so our streak of pro-Eagles picks continues.
There haven’t been a lot of bright spots for the Eagles this year, but wide receiver Travis Fulgham continues to be one of them. Among the 95 wide receivers who have run at least 100 routes, he ranks eighth in yards per route run. And the film shows the Eagles have missed opportunities to get Fulgham the ball even more. As for Dallas, they moved on from a number of veterans like Everson Griffen and Dontari Poe this week. Dallas is expected to start Ben DiNucci at quarterback. There are a lot of great matchups in Week 8. This is not one of them.
• Bill Bender, Sporting News: Eagles 30, Cowboys 20
The Cowboys might go quarterback shopping this week, but it’s a dreadful defense that continues to be the biggest problem. Carson Wentz has passed for multiple TDs in his last three starts, and he improves to 4-4 as a starter against Dallas.
• Vinny Iyer, Sporting News: Eagles 27, Cowboys 14
The Eagles are fueled by the relentless energy of Carson Wentz. His mental and physical toughness has brought them back from a rough start based on injuries around him. The Cowboys showed little life after Dak Presccott went down and even less when Andy Dalton did. There’s a big disconnect under Mike McCarthy. The Eagles can smell a chance to run away with a weak division vs. sweating it out until December. There’s a good chance rookie seventh-rounder Ben DiNucci starts and maybe he provides some spark on the road. But the well-rested Eagles should rip into them on both sides of the ball.
Well, there you have it. A clean sweep, 73-0, in favor of the Eagles. The 2-4-1 Eagles. God, this division is bad.
And, you know what, we’ll do you one better. Just so you don’t think this is home cooking or cherry-picking only the predictions we want to use, let’s take a look over at The Dallas Morning News. Surely one of their experts has to be picking the hometown team, right?
All 10 are picking the Eagles straight up in this one — and only one is picking the Cowboys to cover the 10-point spread. So make that 83-0 in favor of the Birds…
[Note: If you try to count these yourselves, you’ll come up with 85 predictions. But we’re going with 83 because two of the BGN writers were also included in SB Nation’s national picks. No need to double up, even if 85 sounds a lot better than 83.]
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