Eagles head to Texas for big division battle: Eagles come out of bye with three of their seven remaining games featured on primetime

By Griffin Rissinger & Evin Hartsock, Staff Writer & Managing Editor

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     On Sunday night, we’ll see one of the biggest rivals in sports, the Philadelphia Eagles taking on the Dallas Cowboys from “Jerry World” in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys look to bounce back after a 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and the Eagles seek to continue their success following a bye week.
The Birds currently have the best record in the NFL at 8-1, and lead the NFC East division standings. Following their week 2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles have win seven straight games. They have already beaten the Redskins twice, they went on the road on a short week and beat the Panthers, and they demolished the Broncos two weeks ago 51-23. Along with Eagles fans, many NFL pundits are already locking the Eagles in as their NFC pick to reach the Super Bowl. But, the Eagles have yet to face their arch-nemesis in the Cowboys.

     Following the Eagles in the NFC East standings, the Cowboys come into Sunday with a 5-4 record. The Washington Redskins (4-5) and the New York Giants (1-8) man the bottom half of the division. Right now, every team is in the hunt except New York. The Sunday night match-up will be a must win for Dallas, as their loss to Atlanta put them back three games from Philadelphia, and a win could close the gap a bit, but it is very unlikely that the Cowboys will be able to win the NFC East with four, or five losses.

     Not only will we see two very good rival teams go head-to-head, but also two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to a division championship last year. Second-year signal-caller Carson Wentz is leading the Eagles to a very promising season this year, leaving many ‘Birds’ fans with Super Bowl hopes. Wentz has the edge in the quarterback battle, as he currently leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 23 and has only thrown 5 picks on the year. Wentz is completing 60 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 104.1. His adversary, Dak Prescott, does have a slight edge in completion percentage at 63 percent, but has thrown for just 16 touchdowns and a few hundred yards less than Wentz.  Needless to say, the future is bright for both teams as their quarterbacks that are playing better than many second-year quarterbacks typically do.

     The Cowboys will go the second straight week without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott; he’s currently serving a six-game suspension that just became official today. Sunday will be the second game of that six-game suspension. Elliot is third in league in rushing yards (783) and tied for first in rushing touchdowns (7). His absence was greatly felt last week as Dallas’ offense without Elliot was inefficient and the Cowboys could not seem to get on the same page or produce much without him. With Elliot gone, and a banged up offensive line, Prescott’s ability to make plays was greatly hindered, and the same thing could happen this weekend against the Eagles. A weak offensive line will make it a long day for Dallas as the defensive front of Philadelphia that includes the likes of Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Graham is one of the best in the league and will have no problem getting after Prescott.

     The Cowboys will also be without all-pro linebacker, Sean Lee (hamstring) and all-pro tackle Tyron Smith (groin). Not to mention Dez Bryant is still battling injuries. Injuries have plagued ‘America’s Team’ this season, along with the never-ending saga of the Elliott suspension.

     Along with the many injuries of the Cowboys, the Eagles have some more positive news on the injury front. Tight end Zach Ertz (hamstring) and cornerback Ronald Darby (ankle) fully practiced today. Darby hasn’t played since week 1 and Ertz hasn’t played since week 9.

     While Dallas has been struck by the injury bug, the Eagles have used their bye week to deal with injuries to get back to full strength, which could mean a long day for the Cowboys. The Eagles’ offense at full strength has been a scary thing this season as they possess weapons in all facets of the game that can hurt defenses in a big way. The Eagles currently rank second in points per game at 31, led by the fourth-best rushing offense in the league. Philadelphia is averaging 136 rushing yards per game and just put up 197 on the ground against the Broncos’ defense, one of the best in the league. It is not surprising that the Eagles have had great success on the ground, as they have a plethora of backs that can get the job done. LeGarrette Blount has given Philadelphia an effective back that can avoid tackles, and rack of yards after contact when they want to go with a more power running scheme. The rookie Corey Clement has proven himself to be an effective option that Wentz can throw to, as his ability to catch balls out of the backfield and find open field has come out in the past few games. Clement was able to tally three touchdowns against the Broncos two Sundays ago. The new addition to the Eagles, running back Jay Ajayi, who Philadelphia traded for just before the deadline, showed promise in his first start. Only knowing about 10 to 15 plays, Ajayi was able to break away on a 46-yard dash that resulted in a touchdown, something he was unable to do as a Dolphin this season. Dallas might have their hands full with Ajayi as he has had even more time to learn the Eagles’ system and mesh with teammates during the bye.

     The Eagles passing game has gotten stronger as well, as Wentz and wide receiver Alshon Jefferey are finally starting to develop chemistry together. Wentz was able to complete six passes to the former Chicago Bear for a total of 84 yards against the Broncos. Jefferey had arguably the best game of his young Philadelphia career against Denver as in addition to his 84-yard day, he was able to rake in two touchdowns as well.

     With the absences of Sean Lee, and a secondary that has struggled in stretches this season, the Cowboys will hope for some “Jerry World” magic from their home crowd in order to get the job done against the rising Eagles.

     After splitting the two games last year (Cowboys took the first game on October 30th, 29-23, and the Eagles took the second on New Year’s Day, 24-19.), Sunday night will mark another classic battle between these two teams that do not like each other. Don’t miss Eagles-Cowboys at 8:30 pm, Sunday on NBC Sunday Night Football.

 

 

 

Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Dak Prescott has already thrown the same amount of interceptions (4) at week 10 of the season as he did in the entire 2016-17 season.

 

Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz is currently

the favorite to win NFL MVP with 24 touchdown passes.