Three-And-Out: Eagles-Cowboys Predictions

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Player I’ll be watching:

McManus: Nick Foles


Here's how one reporter presented things to Foles earlier this week:

Let's talk about the elephant in the room. Looks like Tony Romo won't be playing in this game on Sunday. Pressure is on you.

So much for subtlety.

Whether you agree with that reasoning or not, there's no denying that this is a pressurized situation for the second-year quarterback. That's true simply because of the situation: this is a must-win game, on the road for the rights to play in the postseason. It's the biggest game he's played in on this level.

The last time he faced Dallas, he went 11-of-29 for 80 yards. That could put a little extra weight on your shoulders if you let it.

And yes, the absence of Romo shifts public perception. The Cowboys will be operating without their star quarterback as well as their star linebacker. They are banged up all over the place. So long as Foles maintains his recent level of play, this should be a sound win for the Eagles.

It is impossible to say for sure how Foles will respond to this kind of moment. Some quarterbacks have the reputation for rising to the occasion in big games, some have the reputation of wilting. Those reputations are earned over time. This is Foles' first win-or-go-home test. Given the way he's played this season and the way he responded to adversity following that Oct. 20 loss to the Cowboys, I'm predicting he performs well. But we won't know for sure until Sunday night.

"I think the most important thing to do in weeks like this is you block everything out, you break it down to: it is a game," said Foles. "It's a big game of  high magnitude with a lot on the line but you can't worry about that, because worrying about that is not going to make you play any better.

"When you start thinking about all that other stuff it causes a lot of anxiety and a lot of stress. It puts a lot of pressure on you to succeed."

Kapadia: Trent Cole

Players and coaches like to pretend that sacks aren't important. In one respect, that is true. Oftentimes, one player will pressure the QB, and another will clean up for the sack.

But in reality, sacks are still the primary statistic by which pass-rushers get judged. In the fantastic mic'd up segment with Cole last week, he was asking outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern to go back onto the field for sack No. 4 even though the game was out of hand.

It's been a roller-coaster year for Cole. He had one sack in the Eagles' first 10 games, but has seven in the last five. Kyle Orton does not have Romo's mobility, meaning the Birds will have a chance to create havoc up front. Cole, who will be matched up against one of the best left tackles in the league in Tyron Smith, faces a stiff challenge.

Prop bet of the week:

Rushing yards for DeMarco Murray --82.5 . Whaddya got?

McManus: The 82.5 is his average/game on the season. That's a respectable number, but the one that is most impressive is 5.4 -- that's his yards per rush, which leads all backs with at least 150 carries.

The Cowboys were catching flak down the stretch for not handing it to Murray more. With Romo out, they have all the reason in the world to ride the 25-year-old.

The good news for the Eagles is that they have been sound against the run (they are 12th in rush yards allowed/game and have yielded 3.8 yards/carry, which is third best in the NFL). The young defensive line trio of Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan deserve a lot of credit for that.

Murray's production will be key for the Cowboys, but they won't be able to lean on him if they are playing from behind. I believe there is a good chance they will be doing just that, so I'll go under.

Kapadia: I know some have theorized that the Cowboys are better off with Orton because they'll be forced to run the ball more. I just don't see it.

If there's one area of the Eagles' defense that I believe is 100 percent legit, it's the run defense. The line is young, athletic and consistently plays with high effort. Connor Barwin sets the edge as well as any outside linebacker in the league. DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have done a great job of attacking the ball-carrier and finishing plays.

I know Murray's numbers are good. I just don't see the Dallas offensive line dominating the Eagles to the degree where the Cowboys control the game. Give me the under.

Predictions:

McManus: Eagles 41, Cowboys 24

Cary Williams called the Vikings loss a good thing for this team's mentality, and it looks like he was right. The Eagles responded with perhaps their best all-around performance of the season against Chicago and now face a depleted Cowboys group that you could take a little lightly if you weren't just served humble pie in Minnesota by Matt Cassel and Matt Asiata. They should now know better than to believe a game is won before it is played.

The Eagles are healthy and fresh. Their offense has climbed to No. 2 in scoring and their defense has held the opponent to 21 or less in 10 of its last 11 games. They have won six of seven since Foles took control in Oakland. This is a better team than the one that faced the Cowboys the first time around.

Of course things could go wrong. This is the NFL, the game is in Dallas and the Eagles aren't perfect. But the Eagles are the superior team. I believed that to be true even before Romo got hurt, and definitely believe it now.

Kapadia: Eagles 34, Cowboys 21

I posed the following question to McManus during Thursday night's show: If the Eagles played the Orton-led Cowboys 10 times, how many would they win? We decided a conservative projection would be seven.

In other words, the Eagles are the better team. On paper, there is no real case you can make for the Cowboys.

But as we know, the games are not played on paper. Eagles fans fall into two categories right now. One side has the Birds winning big because they are the superior team. The other has scars from Ghosts Of Philadelphia Past and knows that when things seem to be aligning perfectly, something usually goes wrong.

I just don't see that happening here. The matchup between the Eagles' offense and the Cowboys' defense is completely one-sided. McCoy should have a monster game, and I think Foles makes people forget about the first meeting against Dallas.

The one scenario where the Eagles could falter is if they turn the ball over, have special-teams meltdowns and turn in a Vikings-like performance on defense. Considering this is a win-or-go-home game, I don't see all those things happening. Look for an Eagles' double-digit victory.

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  • Joe from Easton

    I couldn’t agree with Kapadia any more. The only way the Eagles lose this game is by blowing it, which is what would make a loss so disheartening even though any of us would’ve taken 9-7 and just missing the playoffs had you asked us week 1. The good thing, though, is that I really don’t see it happening. I think as Eagles fans we’re conditioned to wait for the other shoe to drop. We talk about it all of the time. This team is different though. I’m not calling a superbowl run right now, but they remind me of early 2000′s Eagles. They’re young, hungry and learning to play together right now. They’re going to use this game as a stepping stone regardless of what happens in the playoffs. Once they get that taste of playoffs this year, 1st round exit or not, they’re going to be ready to run through fire for Chip. This coach is the real deal. Let’s enjoy it everyone.
    My prediction, because putting it in writing is fun, is Birds 41 Dallas 20 … Foles is 21 – 28 for 29 and 3 TD’s. McCoy will run for two more on 24 for 145. Henery will get a few field goals to boost confidence for the playoffs.
    Let’s go birds!

    • jabostick

      Another 44-6 would be nice! I’ll take that prediction

      • Andy124

        This team is improving in all phases week to week, so I’m going with 55-10. :)

        • GEAGLE

          13-43 Bully Bird Gang!

    • GEAGLE

      Kapadia keeps it real…McManus has been banking on the “law of averages” bringing down FOles and the defense since October lol..,good thing, he didn’t hold his breath :)

    • UKEagle99

      I think everyone is looking at this game as Romo and Lee are out they roll over. I’m looking at this as, my starting QB and best player on a bad D are out, what do I have to lose? I’m not expected to win now, the Eagles are hot and we are wounded. Frack it. I’ll take risks, test them deep, if I am going to lose I’m going down swinging. That’s a dangerous team to play, no matter what.

      • UKEagle99

        Clearly I was speaking as a Cowboy there, I just smashed my face against the side of my house (they’re brick over here) as punishment.. Oh, and my back hurts.

        • Mr. Wu

          Say 10 hail Mary’s and 5 our fathers my son….I pray the football gods will have mercy on your soul

  • jabostick

    I think the case you could make would be a slow start by the Philly offense (keeping Demarco in play), a big special teams play (Dallas has a good returner), maybe a few trick plays/gambles from Garrett (who may be coaching for his job). If Orton were to get a couple of bounces and Foles not get a couple of bounces, it is not all that unrealistic.

    Having said that, I think/hope Philly will sh*t-kick them, I just don’t think it is the gimme some are making it out to be.

    • GEAGLE

      It’s not a gimme at all…but it CAN be!!! It’s up to our guys to be focused, passionate and execute….we are a significantly better coached team then that Undisciplined group of mutts…now that doesn’t mean all we have to do is SHOW up….but if we do what we have been doing, then this does become a gimmie game

    • UKEagle99

      There are no gimmes in the NFL, lots of shoulda, coulda, woulda.

  • GEAGLE

    TM…kind of disrespectful to say that a Defense that gave up more then 21 one time since week 4 is going to give up 24 in it’s biggest opportunity to make a statement of the entire year….our dogs are showing up Sunday night! The only question is, will Dallas get that garbage time TD late in the game while we are celebrating. Even with the back door TD we aren’t giving up more then 21

    Murry is getting shut down, just like all the other backs we played got held in check. the biggest defensive challenge IMO will be Witten who will get a ton of looks! and shutting down Dez yards after catch on quick routes…Cary and Brad answer the bell AGAIN!!!!..Barwin will have a big role helping to slow down Witten and Dez…
    ..
    Romo is a gunslinger. Who I don’t even want to Sack…I want to pressure into rushed! forced throws that we can intercept..Orton, I WANT TO SACK!! Force Fumble Time!!!

    IMO, this game ends up looking a whole lot like the “Bear hunting” game

    • Joe from Easton

      Let’s go birds. I’m not even worried about Foles because our defense should own this game.

      • GEAGLE

        Agreed….especially if you add in our RBs and Oline…

        In a perfect game, We pound them with 3 RB,Nwhile our Oline and TEs wham block the crap out of them all game, every now and then bringing out a play action pass just so Desean can GET HIS.

        If our team plays up to it’s ability, then FOles shouldn’t throw more then 25 passes in a game like this

        • Joe from Easton

          I like 25 as the ceiling but for the sake of Chip pouring a little on I went with 28 attempts in my prediction.

          • GEAGLE

            I’m all for, an epic, BCS style ASS WHOOPING!! And I damn sure ain’t ever against “pouring it on a little” when we face the dirty stinking cowboys in their house..I’ll see your 28 attempts and raise it two lol

          • nicksaenz1

            I’d love to see a 66-7 type BCS whooping. Not only would Chip not take out the starters after being up 45-0, but he’d continue to air it out and make Jerry so mad his head exploded… figuratively, of course. We need Jerry to remain owner/GM for as long as we can.

          • Nick Weber

            losers

    • Bukester

      I see Whitten as the only real threat here. Not all game long but as the guy to throw off OUR rhythm. Orton will “manage” the game at best and kill the clock. If I see 3rd and long first downs by Whitten, I am gonna shit my pants.

    • UKEagle99

      I hope you are right but no-one and I mean no-one said Cassell & co would rape us in the dome. All I read was speed kills and we were going to own them. We SHOULD win this game with ease but I’ve given up assuming what should be.

  • Andy124

    Going with the whole, “If we played them 10 times we’d beat them 7″ line of thinking, I’d say that if we play them 10 times, we’d hold them to 17 or less 7 times.

    • UKEagle99

      I think if we played them 10 times, I’d be very very drunk.

  • John J. King

    This over the top calculus along with the hubris of folks who were sure they would go 3-13 scares the s^#t out of me. “On any given Sunday” especially when the gloat drips?

    • Andy124

      I totally understand your reservations. I think we all do. And I won’t try to ease your fears at all.

      But I will offer what I hope is a small comfort: No amount of hubris or lack thereof on the part of commenters on a message board is going to influence the outcome of a football game.

      • Maggie

        Next you’ll be saying that carefully draping my Brian Westbrook jersey over the back of my chair does not guarantee a win, either?!!

        • Andy124

          No, no. That one matters.

          • Maggie

            Whew! ;~]

      • UKEagle99

        No? Then we’re doomed, dooooooooooomed I say…. Nah, we’ll win.

      • John J. King

        Unless Chip and the players have the same attitude

    • theycallmerob

      Vegas always knows. And the line has shifted heavily towards the Eagles.

      • John J. King

        Well, then, that’s done and dusted. No need to play the game? As long as Nick doesn’t do another Dallas and McCoy gets to run the ball 20+ times, we should be ok but these kinds of games are – in Iggs history – the ones we lose.

  • Scott J

    Concentrate on stopping Murray and double Bryant. If they can beat us with Orton, Witten, Williams, and Beasley then we don’t deserve to go to the playoffs.

    • BlindChow

      That was the plan against the Vikings: stop Asiata and let Cassel beat us.

      Oops.

      • Maggie

        Well, the Eagles have been learning from their mistakes, haven’t they?

  • Mr. Wu

    in case you missed it here is video of Jerrah making a surprise visit to the Romo residence on Christmas Day trying to convince him to play on sunday

  • Maggie

    Don’t know if this helps or not, but yesterday at the dog park I ran into the fellow who wears an Eagles hoodie. We got into a conversation and I discovered that he belongs to a whole group of Eagle fans in the Greater Vancouver area who actually have a group name, and who charter an aircraft several times a year to go to games! Especially within the western half of the continent. Quite a number will be in Dallas. If they are still conscious and sober(it IS a chartered flight), they will cheer mightily for the Birds. Think of them as your proxy, lol.

    • Richard Colton

      what’s the name of the fan group?

      • UKEagle99

        Maggie always speaks in riddles/tongues.

        • Maggie

          Sorry, no tongues. I’m not good at languages, not even sign language. I was, however, born in the UK. Mother from Liverpool (she used to ride the ferry ‘cross the Mersey) and I was born in Worthing. You?

      • Maggie

        Can’t remember. I had to rescue my dog just then and we didn’t get back to conversation. Might see him again on Sunday before the game so will ask for reminder.

  • Andy124

    bwahahahahaha!!!!!!

  • GEAGLE

    Who has a better chance to win this weekend? Dallas or Chris Weidman? Lol

    • Andy124

      I think you mean Dallas or Silva. Chris is about to show the first one was no fluke.

      • GEAGLE

        I dunno….gotta see it to believe it…Chris, slow, plodding basic, could get seriously lit up by a motivated, fast. Explosive, precise , Killer

        • Andy124

          We shall see. I honestly have no idea who’ll win. Should be great no matter what.

  • Tom w

    We don’t the turn the ball over and don’t get penalized a lot. Our strength on d is their strength on offense. We can score on anyone. Worst defense in the league vs top 3 offense. Coaching comparison isn’t even close. Finally, the best two players who could rise above and single handidly beat us are out. 37-13. Relax.

  • Brian

    Eagles 38 – Cowboys 3

  • addicted2mula

    Shady. And Peters!!!

  • Eagle Bill72

    The loss to the Vikings was insured as soon as Nick was put on the cover of SI. The other loss to Dallas happened because Foles was already hurt. Time for revenge on an epic level! 33-13 EAGLES

  • EaglefaninAZ

    I can’t wait until folks stop bringing up Foles performance in the last Dallas game. Lordy… that was a long time ago in regards to what this team has become since then. Sheesh.

  • mtn_green

    Boykin has another pick, Barwin a pick six. The defense has gotten a turnover almost every game and scored their first points last week, the regression to the mean, it’s all luck, eagles get 14 off turnovers.

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    The only way the Eagles lose this game is if the defense sh*ts the bed and decide to make Orton look like a pro-bowler. That’s about it.

  • Scott J

    I would think a backup QB making 10 mil. would feel a lot of pressure. If Orton doesn’t play well, I would assume he would be cut. Foles will be the starter next year no matter what happens Sunday night. Of course, we’re talking about Jerry Jones, so Orton would probably return no matter how bad he plays.

  • Tom W

    41 – 17. Chip gets his pay back vs Kiffin on national television.

    Kiffin sells out to stop the run, loading 7-8 in the box w rotating man-zone coverage against our wrs …. Puts Brandon Carr on DJax all game but Chip schemes and gets him open.

    Offense falls on Foles to hit intermediate passes … Cooper, Avant, Ertz all catch at least 3 balls. He makes the throws that were wide open last time they played. Also runs for 30 yds. Ertz and Cooper score in the first half.

    Defense plays steady but dallas goes max protect and orton goes underneath to witten and murray and austin and beasley and a few nice runs by Murray. 17-10 at half birds.

    Chip makes some adjustments at the half and Mccoy takes one deep to the house early in the third.. Oline takes over from there and the offense opens it up. Scoring 17 in the 3d quarter. Djax and Cooper take a few short crossing routes for big gains. Defensive line and lbs effectively bottle up Murray forcing Dallas to throw to no avail. Pressure gets to Orton and the cowboys don’t cross the fifty in the third quarter.

    In the Fourth, eagles take a long drive and half the quarter to score their final td. Dallas responds w a garbage td to witten. Eagles run the clock out w mike vick on the field.

    Fletcher Cox and Demeco have big games on defense. Foles throws for over 300 and three tds.

  • gmenfanatic

    this game tonight shouldn’t even be a contest…the Birds win going away, if they don’t then they suck worse than the Giants do…..