(One of my all-time favorite Eagles moments. Lito Sheppard picks off Drew Bledsoe and returns it 102 yards to seal an Eagles win over the Cowboys. It was TO’s first game back in Philly.)
By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
There is no game that an Eagles fan looks forward to in the regular season more than the two games against Dallas. The hatred is obvious and mutual. The games are that much better when both teams are good and competing for the division title.
That’s the situation we have set up for us as fans on Sunday. Winner takes sole possession of first place on Sunday Night Football. In that stupid stadium they call “Jerry's World.” In a lot of ways, I think Eagles fans enjoy beating Dallas in their place more than at home. At least I do.
Another underrated part of beating Dallas is when the camera inevitably pans to Jerry Jones in his owner’s box, showing him pound his fist in disgust like a child. It makes me laugh every time. Let’s hope we get to hear Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth discussing that late in the fourth quarter on Sunday night.
As Eagles fans, we are going to need to channel all of the 44-6, “They stop him again,” Brandon Boykin and Lito Sheppard game-winning interceptions, and 1980 NFC Championship game thoughts we can possibly have on Sunday. I think the Eagles are going to need all the help they can get to win on Sunday.
Eagles Offense vs. Cowboys Defense
Carson Wentz needs some help. Everyone around him needs to play better. I understand that Wentz has not been perfect, but he has been pretty dang close. His receivers need to catch the ball, the offensive line needs to hold up and Doug Pederson needs to call a better game. That would include not attempting a fake field goal with ten seconds left in the first half with no timeouts.
Pederson needs to be more creative with his offensive play calling so that the Eagles can avoid having to go for it on fourth down all the time. Something more exotic than the same three run plays, RPO’s, and play-action shots. I don’t want to throw the ball deep every play, but running some intermediate routes that are about 15-25 yards down field would really open up the rest of the field.
Also, it would help if Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz could somewhat act like they wanted to run with the football once they catch it. I mean seriously, would it kill either one of you to break a tackle? Maybe show some agility, stay in bounds down the sideline when there is no one around?
If Alshon Jeffery stays in bounds, this might be a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/uE9jdS548e— DIE-HARD 🦅 Fans (@Eaglesfans9) October 13, 2019
Jeffery and fellow receiver Nelson Agholor were also tied up in some off the field drama this week. “An anonymous source” made some comments about the Eagles not acquiring Jalen Ramsey. I, however, think the story is a bunch of baloney, and is nothing more than a fabricated story for a few clicks. Eerily similar to last years “reports” about Carson Wentz being a bad teammate.
The Eagles will be without Jason Peters this week. Andre Dillard will be making his first start. Not the ideal situation for Dillard’s first start. DeSean Jackson and Darren Sproles remain out. Remind me again, why does the Eagles medical staff remain employed?
As for the Cowboys defense, I’d argue that this unit is the strength of their team. It also helps that it is the most healthy part of their squad. The defensive line, anchored by stud defensive end DeMarcus Lawerence, is stout.
The linebacking core is elite, led by one of the best trios in the league with Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and often injured Sean Lee (he will play Sunday). This position group is the strength of their defense.
The secondary is sneakily decent, guided by cornerback Byron Jones. Jones is dealing with a hamstring injury and missed practice Wednesday, although he is reportedly attempting to practice Friday. If he does play Sunday night, I hope that Pederson tests him early to see just how healthy he is. Hamstring injuries for cornerbacks can severely affect their play (i.e. Ronald Darby).
The Cowboys defense ranks in the top ten in yards allowed per game (331) as well as points allowed per game (19). After a very shaky start last week against the lowly Jets offense, allowing 21 first half points, this unit kept the Cowboys in the game in the second half. They allowed just three points after halftime. Points will be hard to come by against them.
Injury Report: Eagles at Cowboys
Eagles Defense vs. Cowboys Offense
This could be rough. The Cowboys offense isn’t anything special, but boy did they tear this defense apart last year. Last year’s defense had the same problem that this year’s defense does: the secondary. I think I have said this every week and I’ve gotten really tired of it.
Good news: the Birds are getting some reinforcements. Sources have confirmed that the Eagles plan on starting cornerback Jalen Mills. Maybe not the Jalen Eagles fans were hoping for, but he will have to do. I’m on record as not being the biggest fan of Jalen Mills, but at this point I’m willing to try anybody at cornerback. I will take this comment back when Mills inevitably gets toasted by Amari Cooper on a double move.
#Eagles CB Jalen Mills said that he’s going to start Sunday at the a Cowboys.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) October 18, 2019
Ronald Darby is also working his way back, and has a chance to play on Sunday. I expect him to be a game-time decision. The bad news on the Eagles injury front is that according to Doug Pederson, starting linebacker Nigel Bradham “is a longshot” to play on Sunday.
That means the Eagles will be heavily reliant on Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill in the middle. While they are good in pass coverage, neither is particularly strong in stopping the run. This is probably not the team to play against with two linebackers who aren’t known for rush defense.
The Eagles remain in the top two in the league against the run, but they showed some vulnerability last week in Minnesota. Dallas is very strong in the rushing department. Something is going to have to give.
The Cowboys offense is led by the most overrated player in the league right now: Dak Prescott. That being said, I would not be popposed to Jerry Jones shelling out $200 million for Dak’s contract extension, in fact I fully endorse it.
rescott is a very strong runner. Unfortunately for Dallas, he is not a running back. Prescott has always been shaky when it comes to throwing the football. He has inconsistent accuracy at best. The last two weeks, he has had very typical Dak Prescott games. Turn the ball over and look horrible in the first half, then do the complete opposite in the second half when trailing by a lot.
Credit to him for bringing the Cowboys back into those contests, but he completed neither comeback. Cowboys fans, this is part of the reason why his stats look so good. The other part of that would be his first three opponents were the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins. Please stop arguing that he is better than Wentz, it’s simply not true.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott is fresh off signing the largest contract for a running back in NFL history. He again is the main cog in a top ten rushing attack. Unfortunately for Dallas, another main part of that rushing attack is the offensive line. That unit is very banged up this week, and the status of both starting tackles, Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, is up in the air. If they don’t play, advantage: Eagles.
The Cowboys receivers have a clear advantage over the Eagles secondary. Amari Cooper left last week’s game with an injury, so if he doesn’t play that would be huge for the Eagles defense. Unfortunately, I expect him to be out there running circles around our cornerbacks.
In the last meeting between these two teams, Cooper had a career day with 13 receptions, 217 yards, and all three Cowboy touchdowns. That includes the game-winner in overtime. It still hurts to think about.
Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, and future hall of fame tight end Jason Witten fill out the rest of the receiving core. Witten is 37 years old and was a broadcaster last year (a horrible one, at that), but I still expect him to score a red zone touchdown. Jason Witten red zone touchdowns against the Eagles are about as certain as the sun rising.
I do not have a good feeling about this game. The Cowboys have taken the last three contests against the Eagles, including a series sweep last year. I know the Cowboys have lost three in a row, including a loss to the miserable Jets last week. I know they are maybe even more banged up than the Birds are.
Alas, the Eagles are coming off a humiliating loss last week in Minnesota. I simply do not have enough confidence in the Eagles right now to expect them to go into Dallas on a Sunday night and come away victorious.
The game will be close, as they always are between these two teams. It will be back and forth, with both sides playing well, but not great. Eagles lose in heartbreaking fashion that leaves me laying on my living room floor in a puddle of my own tears. Just like last year. Cowboys 26, Eagles 20, in overtime.
Silver lining: maybe, if the Eagles lose, it will slap Howie Roseman straight across the face and force him to make a trade for a cornerback. A guy can have hope.
Bonus Content: My Favorite Eagles-Cowboys Video Ever
will be in jerryworld on sunday pic.twitter.com/BP1LJXpy11— Jeff McDevitt (@JeffMcDev) October 17, 2019
Time: 8:20 p.m.
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP
Online: NFL Gamepass