NFL 2019 (Week 7): Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 7): Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

The NFC East is split nearly evenly between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” as Philadelphia and Dallas have won five of the last six division titles, including the last three. Washington and New York were expected to be among the worst teams in the league this year, so most projected this as a two-horse race once again. However, after six games, both teams sit at 3-3, only one game ahead of the Giants. The Cowboys opened up the season on a tear, scoring at least 31 points in each of their first three games, all wins. They have since lost all momentum, though, and need to right the ship before their Week 8 bye. Philadelphia’s next four opponents after Dallas (at Buffalo, Chicago, New England, and Seattle) are a combined 18-4 going into Sunday’s games, so things could spiral out of control fast if Doug Pederson doesn’t find the winning combination soon.

Eagles: One piece of the Eagles’ winning combination is the health of its roster, namely the absence of wide receiver DeSean Jackson and left tackle Jason Peters. Jackson has not recorded a catch since Week 1 nor appeared in a game since Week 2, and he and Peters will be joined on the sideline by Darren Sproles, Tim Jernigan, Avonte Maddox and Nigel Bradham. Adding to the team’s struggles is its woeful pass defense, which ranks 29th in the league while giving up over 280 yards per game through the air. They have—somewhat astoundingly—recorded seven interceptions, which ties Green Bay, San Francisco and Washington for fourth in the league. In other words, if an Eagle defender doesn’t intercept the pass, big things are likely going to happen for the opposing offense. Philly’s once-fearsome pass rush is now middling, and their corners have been repeatedly victimized on deep throws. The Cowboys’ offensive line is the walking wounded, and it is now or never for Eagles pass rushers to come alive. Their season may depend on it.

Cowboys: Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are arguably the best left tackle and right guard in the NFL, although neither player is at full health. Right tackle La’el Collins is also encumbered by a knee injury, which means three of Dallas’ five starting linemen are designated as questionable but are expected to play. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper are all quite mortal without the support of their stellar blockers, and the Cowboys’ scoring average has dropped from 32.3 points per game to 18.7 over the course of its three-game losing streak. The bye week can’t come soon enough, but Philadelphia is still too dangerous to overlook. If Rod Marinelli’s defense can keep Carson Wentz contained and force a turnover or two, Dak will feel much less pressure to carry his team to victory behind an ailing line. A football season is more marathon than sprint, yet a 3-0 start in division play would help propel a strong second half of the year (Dallas has already defeated Washington and New York).

Prediction: Wentz and Prescott go toe-to-toe for four quarters, with the home team scraping out a win by the narrowest of margins.

Dallas Cowboys 28, Philadelphia Eagles 27

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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