Who’s Picking the Eagles?
Here’s a roundup of national media predictions for Sunday’s Eagles-Cowboys game.
Four of five NFL.com experts are picking the Eagles.
For the second straight week, Elliot Harrison of NFL.com selects the Eagles’ matchup as the “Power Pick of the Week.” And once again, he’s going against the home team:
Dallas wins the day, but not necessarily the NFC East. The Cowboys still host Indianapolis and finish the season at Washington (which is never an easy game). Meanwhile, the Eagles play at Washington and then finish in the New Meadowlands against the Giants. While I would give Philadelphia the schedule advantage ( Colts > Giants), you just never know with these NFC East games. Philly and Big Blue have split the past two seasons, while the Redskins shocked the Cowboys at Jerry World earlier this year. I like the Cowboys on Sunday because they’ll have had nine days to rest, and when these teams faced off last time, the ‘Boys had played a Sunday night game on the East Coast a few days prior. Also, teams typically don’t do so hot the week after they face the Seahawks. Call it being beasted.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com puts together his Week 15 viewer’s guide:
DeMarco Murray has eleven 100-yard games this season (most in NFL). The Eagles’ defense has allowed one 100-yard rusher this season (Frank Gore, 119 yards). In their Week 13 matchup Philly held Murray to 73 yards on 20 carries. Murray will have 10 days to rest up before the pivotal matchup Sunday night and he’ll need it against Fletcher Cox, who has been beastly against the run. The Eagles secondary can be picked apart, however. Philadelphia’s defense has kept a QB’s passer rating below 55.0 once since 2013 — that was Tony Romo’s 53.7 rating on Thanksgiving Day.
LeSean McCoy went for 159 yards and a score on 25 attempts in the Week 13 matchup. It was the type of performance that underscored a Cowboys defense that struggles in space. Shady has 100-plus rush yards in four of the last eight games after stumbling to open the season. With the Cowboys allowing 113.1 yards per game on the ground (17th), mostly to teams with a less dynamic offense, McCoy could be in for another big night.
Boomer Esiason of SI.com lists his top four quarterbacks facing the most pressure in Week 15:
Don Banks of SI.com is picking the Eagles to win by two scores:
Eagles 34, Cowboys 23
Now why did Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones feel the need to give Dallas head coach Jason Garrett the dreaded vote of confidence heading into the season’s most crucial game, at Philadelphia? (And for that matter, why does Jones refer to his father as “Jerry” in the media, as if that way we might forget they’re related?) Garrett has finally gotten his club to the nine-win level, but so what? The playoffs are not remotely assured, as they would have been had the 8-8 version of the Cowboys won one of those recent-year Week 17 NFC East showdowns they’re famous for losing. Troy Aikman had it right the other day in our Q&A; there’s a chance 10 or even 11 wins might not do it for Dallas in this year’s high-quality NFC playoff field. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the star on the helmet? The Eagles won’t run circles around the Cowboys like they did on Thanksgiving Day in Arlington, but the end result will still be a two-game Philly division lead with two to play. Unless of course you happen to put much stock in the fact that the road team has won five of the past six meetings between these two rivals.
Over at ESPN.com, 10 of 13 analysts are expecting a Birds victory.
On the contrary, CBSSports.com has only two of eight writers going with Philadelphia.
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com is one of those this six writers picking the Cowboys:
Cowboys 28, Eagles 24
This will likely decide the division winner. The Eagles dominated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, but I think this will be different. I think the 10 days off, after playing last Thursday, will help the Cowboys. They will be much better prepared on defense this time around. Tony Romo wins another December game.
FoxSports.com has four of six analysts taking the Eagles.
Pete Schrager of FoxSports.com is one the two analysts going against the Birds:
Cowboys 24, Eagles 23
It wasn’t pretty for the Cowboys when these teams played two weeks ago. DeMarco Murray, who has torched the entire league, ran for a season-low 73 yards and the Philadelphia defensive line was in the Dallas backfied the entire afternoon. And though Murray had 179 yards on the ground last week, he’s never broken the century mark versus the Eagles. As I mentioned at the top, this is truly a make-or-break game, and 11-5 might not be enough for Dallas to get in if it’s swept by Philadelphia. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I think the Cowboys get it together and find a way on Sunday night.
USA Today has four of seven writers picking the Cowboys.
The writers at Pro Football Talk are split on the Eagles-Cowboys game:
MDS’s take: Philadelphia can’t actually clinch the NFC East on Sunday night, but it can come pretty close by taking a one-game lead and completing the season sweep over Dallas. That’s what I’m expecting to see, as Chip Kelly will get his offense straightened out and the Eagles will score plenty on the Cowboys.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 35, Cowboys 21
Florio’s take: Last time around, the Cowboys weren’t ready to be competitive after only three days off — especially with a quarterback who never practices on the third day after playing. This time, the Cowboys have had extra rest and the Eagles have to be wondering whether they can compete with the best teams in the conference. Last week’s loss to the Seahawks suggests they can’t, which could make it harder for them to match the intensity that the Cowboys will bring to Philly while chasing their elusive 10th win.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 30, Eagles 27
Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News picks the Eagles-Cowboys matchup as the NFC Game of the Week:
The Cowboys did nothing at home on Thanksgiving just two weeks ago against this same team, but their 6-0 road record would suggest they will play much better in the rematch. They’re also coming off a long week this time instead of a short one, which will help them catch their breath against the fast-flying Eagles.
The key for the Cowboys will be to play more aggressively and come out throwing a little to force Philadelphia do the chasing instead of them. They still need to give DeMarco Murray his touches, but can’t afford to force-feed him and try to play ball control because the Eagles don’t care about time of possession. The Eagles’ quick-strike ability should return, however, after being shut down by Seattle. They have more diverse, hard-to-cover receiving weapons to complement the run and offensive line than Dallas does, and that’s the difference again. Give Philadelphia the NFC East again. Eagles 30, Cowboys 27
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.