Eagles vs. Cowboys Game Predictions: Three-and-out
The Philadelphia Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Here’s how we expect the game to unfold.
EAGLES PLAYER I’LL BE WATCHING
BLG: Carson Wentz.
Sunday marks the last game of Wentz’s rookie season. He’s set to become the first Eagles passer to start all 16 games for the Birds since Donovan McNabb in 2008. It’s been a long time since the Eagles have had continuity at the quarterback position.
That lack of continuity could soon be coming to an end. Wentz showed real franchise quarterback potential in his first NFL season. It wasn’t always pretty; Wentz had his fair share of struggles this season after getting off to a hot start. But the Eagles hope that Wentz will only improve when he’s given more weapons and the team has a full offseason to work with him on his development.
But before the offseason gets here, Wentz has one last game to play. And though it’s a meaningless game, the Eagles would certainly enjoy seeing him beat up on the Cowboys. Wentz should be able to take advantage of Dallas playing their backups.
Mostly importantly, the Eagles need Wentz to stay healthy. They don’t want him joining the likes of Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota as young quarterbacks who suffered major injuries late in the season. That’s not to say the Eagles should wrap Wentz in bubble wrap and play Chase Daniel. These game reps are valuable for a developmental player. Still, the Eagles should be careful when they can. So, like, no more having Wentz go out and lead block on plays, Doug.
Josh: Byron Marshall.
This will be a weird game to cover between the Eagles having no shot at the playoffs and the Cowboys not really caring about whether they win or lose, so I’m looking at this one with the future in mind. The rookie undrafted free agent has only carried the ball nine times this season for 22 yards (all versus the Ravens), but once he settled down after his initial carries in Baltimore, he showed his elusiveness.
The Eagles have a question mark going forward at running back as Ryan Mathews is expected to be cut to save $4 million against the 2017 salary cap, and while Marshall doesn’t project as much more than a change-of-pace back, the Birds could bring him back next year.
“I would obviously love to see Byron quite a bit in this last ballgame, see what you’ve got there,” Pederson said. “Receiving I think is probably one of his strengths. I think out of the backfield, he’s extremely elusive; he’s quick. As a runner, he’s got a great jump-cut type move that is very elusive, and you see it in practice when he’s going against our defense. Those are things we’ve got to see carry over into a game.”
It remains to be seen how the running back snaps will be split on Sunday, but Marshall should get a good amount of snaps as Darren Sproles’ backup.
OVER/UNDER: 10.5 snaps for Tony Romo — Whaddya got?
I can’t get over how potentially disastrous playing Romo in this game could be for the Cowboys. If Romo gets hurt, Dallas loses their backup for the playoffs. A Romo injury could also make it more difficult for the Cowboys to trade/cut him. There’s very little, if anything to gain by having Romo play in this meaningless game. Especially if he’s playing behind a backup Dallas offensive line.
Ian Rapoport said Romo will play a series or two, so it’s not like he’s expected to play the whole game. And, who knows, maybe this Romo report was leaked just to stir up some interest in a meaningless game. Maybe Romo won’t play at all.
The feeling here is Romo will play and the Cowboys might regret it.
We’re on the same page, BLG. I can’t wrap my head around why Romo would be on the field. The 36-year-old playing well for only 10-15 snaps would have no impact on his trade value, and it wouldn’t help that much if Prescott goes down in the postseason.
This is a move with very little upside, in addition to the obvious injury risk which could torpedo his trade value. Jerry Jones said earlier in the week that “it would not be worth the risk” to play Romo, and I’m not sure what could’ve changed in the last few days.
BLG: Eagles 27, Cowboys 13.
The Eagles should want this game a lot more than the Cowboys. Dallas should be focused on resting their starters and making it to the playoffs without suffering any major injuries. Philadelphia, meanwhile, will want to end their season on a high-note with back-to-back wins over the Cowboys and the Giants. Not to mention that winning on Sunday could potentially improve the 2017 first-round pick the Eagles are set to receive from the Vikings.
Philadelphia’s defense picked off Eli Manning three times last week. This could be another game where they get a lot of interceptions if Mark Sanchez is playing a lot. As Eagles fans are well aware, Sanchez is prone to making mistakes and turning the ball over.
This should be a game the Eagles win with relative ease. It might be close in the beginning if/when Dallas plays their starters, but the Eagles should start to pull away as the Cowboys take their foot off the gas.
Josh: Eagles 24, Cowboys 14.
This a game where you throw out the numbers and base your prediction off of one simple fact: The Eagles’ starters will play against several of the Cowboys’ backups for at least a large portion of the second half. If the Birds can’t win this one, they’re even further from being a playoff team than we already think.