Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys: Preview and Prediction
On a weekend in which NFC East teams are battling each other in both divisional matchups, this feels like the consolation championship. The Philadelphia Eagles have lost seven straight games, and the Dallas Cowboys are on life support after a miserable Thanksgiving performance against the Washington Redskins.
Dallas can keep its season alive with a home victory in prime time, but nothing's guaranteed in this league and we're talking about the NFC's two most mistake-prone and unpredictable teams.
That won't stop us from making a prediction. But first, a final primer.
What Philly must do to win, offensive edition: Stay conservative in the passing game to prevent more turnovers and let Bryce Brown do his thing against a banged-up front seven.
What Philly must do to win, defensive edition: Actually consider covering some receivers. No big plays from Dez Bryant or Miles Austin.
What Dallas must do to win, offensive edition: Don't turn the ball over and the opportunities will come deep against a team that doesn't appear to care.
What Dallas must do to win, defensive edition: Key on Brown and send extra rushers to get into Nick Foles' head. Don't waste extra men on Philly's receivers.
Five most important non-quarterbacks, Eagles edition: Bryce Brown, King Dunlap, Dennis Kelly, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Brown has to lead this offense, possibly for the remainder of the season. He was superb last week in a losing effort. Dunlap and Kelly are the tackles responsible for holding up against DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Asomugha and DRC will have to handle Dez Bryant and anyone else Tony Romo tries to exploit that secondary with.
Who will win Sunday?
Five most important non-quarterbacks, Cowboys edition: Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Ware, Dan Connor, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant
Stop Brown and you're golden. That's why three Dallas linebackers are so important. Plus, Ware and Spencer will have to get at least some pressure on Foles. Murray and Bryant are Romo's top weapons, and they can help each other by forcing the Eagles defense to keep guessing.
Injury analysis, Eagles edition: Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy are out, but we're used to that by now. The real interesting injury is to center Dallas Reynolds. That could force stud guard Evan Mathis to shift to his right, putting an already-terrible line in an even tougher spot. It's a mess, man.
Injury analysis, Cowboys edition: Murray still isn't a lock to return from a foot injury, but it looks good. Even so, though, there's no telling how rusty he'll be against a solid run defense and after so much time away.
But the defense is a disaster, with Bruce Carter and Orlando Scandrick joining Sean Lee, Barry Church and Kenyon Coleman on the sideline and Jay Ratliff also a question mark. Great chance for Foles to have a decent game and Brown to run wild.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction: I don't think Dallas has a lot of gas left in the tank with Bruce Carter out and that deflating loss to the Redskins. Still, the Cowboys will be well rested and at home against an Eagles team on a short week and in even worse shape on the road.
Cowboys 26, Eagles 16
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