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Week 9 NFL Prediction: Cowboys Will Pound Eagles at The Linc

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Week 9 NFL Prediction: Cowboys Will Pound Eagles at The Linc
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It's been a relatively easy couple of weeks for the Dallas Cowboys (5-2) and Philadelphia Eagles (5-2), as they have ascended to the top of the NFC East standings, cruising past the stumbling New York Giants.

The Eagles and Cowboys will meet Sunday at The Linc in Philly, which was the site of a crime scene in Week 17 of the 2008 season.

The Eagles absolutely stomped the Cowboys, 44-6, and the sting is still felt by many of the Cowboys.

This is how the two teams compare.

 

When the Eagles have the ball:

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has been efficient this year (9 TD, 1 INT) when he has been healthy.

They also have two very young, electric receivers in Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.  Jackson already has six touchdowns greater than 50 yards.

All-Pro running back Bryan Westbrook, who is returning after a week off due to a concussion, will most likely split duties with LeSean McCoy.

The Eagles offensive line is still coming together, and isn't as formidable as in years past.

The Cowboys have one of the most dominant defensive players in the game in Demarcus Ware.   He started off the year slow by his standards, but has rebounded in the past three weeks with five sacks and two forced fumbles.

Along with Ware, nose tackle Jay Ratliff has been unstoppable in the middle of that defense.  Offenses should start charging him rent as much as he camps out in their backfield.

The secondary, starring Terrence Newman and Michael Jenkins, is starting to peak, and they have been playing with aggression that Cowboys fans have not seen in years.  

But the heartbeat of the Cowboys defense is a newcomer, linebacker Keith Brooking.  His intensity and passion is contagious, and his teammates have benefited greatly from his presence on and off the field.

In the end, it comes down to the Eagles offensive line versus the defensive front of the Cowboys.  Desean Jackson will be blanketed with two Cowboys, allowing Ware, Ratliff and Co. to feast on McNabb as he tries to find an open receiver.    

The Eagles line won't hold up, and McNabb will on the ground a lot. They gave up six sacks to the Oakland Raiders, and I believe it will more of the same with the more talented Cowboys.

Advantage: Cowboys

 

When the Cowboys have the ball:

Quarterback Tony Romo has been on fire the past three weeks, with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

Romo has benefited from the emergence of receiver Miles Austin, who has quickly become the Cowboys No. 1 receiver by setting an NFL record for yards (482) in the first three starts of a career. 

Runningbacks Marion Barber III, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice form a three-headed monster out of the backfield. 

Tight end Jason Witten doesn't have the stats to show for it, but he has drawn a lot of coverage away from the Cowboys receivers.  Look for his production to improve as Austin continues to excel.

The Cowboys offensive line has given up 13 sacks, which is a little more than in past years, but says more about Romo taking the sack instead of trying to force something.

However the Cowboys are sixth in rushing, seventh in passing, and second in total offense.  You can't have those kinds of numbers without a solid offensive line.

The Eagles lost one of the greatest defensive minds in history, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, to cancer during the offseason.  Along with the loss of Bryan Dawkins to the Broncos, they had faced quite a bit of adversity even before the beginning of the season.

Trent Cole (6.5 sacks) leads the Eagles front seven, but where the really have playmakers is in the secondary.  Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown lead the team with five and three interceptions, respectively.  

Although the Eagles secondary is better than the Cowboys receivers as a whole, that is where their advantage ends.  

The Cowboys receivers may not have a big day, but the extra attention to Austin should open it up underneath for tight ends Witten and Bennett. The Eagles are incredibly vulnerable to tight ends, and Dallas just happens to have the best tight end in the NFL in Witten.

Finally, the Eagles defensive line just doesn't match up well with the Cowboys offensive line.  Barber and Jones should be able to establish the run, and without pressure on Romo, he will pick the Eagles apart.

Advantage: Cowboys

 

Verdict:

The Eagles will keep it close early, but then it's going to get ugly. 

Cowboys 42-20

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