Week 16 Matchup: Eagles at Cowboys
What looked like a possible blowout early on ended up being a hard-fought battle in the end, but with mistakes in a crucial time the Eagles came up short against the Arizona Cardinals. Even with that loss, they somehow still have a shot at a playoff spot. With two games left in the season, most of the time these games are do-or-die situations since they are against divisional opponents. The preseason favorites in the NFC East are set to meet in Week 16 without their franchise quarterbacks starting and with their playoff hopes in the hands of a team that didn't figure to be in the running this late. The first of two is against the Dallas Cowboys, and the Eagles won the first matchup in a lopsided 23-9 victory. Here is the matchup preview of their biggest divisional rival.
The Dallas Cowboys are on a little bit of a winning streak currently, having won their last two games against the San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals. With Andy Dalton back, the team’s offense got its second wind and they're going to do everything they can to extend their streak to three and keep their own playoff hopes alive. Dalton isn't going to scare defenses, but he's at least competent and can be more than that with receivers like Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb making big plays down the field against a banged-up Philadelphia secondary. In his last game against the 49ers, Dalton completed the game with a 57.6 CMP%, 209 yards, two touchdowns, and a 96.7 QB rating.
After landing a $21 Million/year contract during the 2019 offseason, DeMarcus Lawrence has been a disappointment, as he has since had just 10.5 sacks in 30 games. Still, he's (shockingly) the Cowboys' best pass rusher, leading the team in sacks, QB pressures, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles. Lawrence will more than likely be paired up with Matt Pryor who had a terrible outing in the Eagles' loss against the Cardinals.
It’s been said that Ezekiel Elliott is already reaching his decline, and his backup Tony Pollard is much better. Before when Elliott would be out due to injury there would be a collective sigh of relief coming from Eagles fans, but since he hasn’t performed as well as he had in the past, it doesn't make a difference. Now with Tony Pollard filling in that spot, there is someone fans will have to fear since Pollard has been playing pretty well as of late. In their game against the Niners, Pollard ran 12 times for 69 yards (5.8 YPC) and two touchdowns. He also chipped in six receptions for 63 yards. It seems like Pollard is much more of a threat than Elliott ever was, and that says a lot considering how dominant he was whenever the Eagles would square up with Dallas.
Dallas Week was always something hyped up in the past, but with this ongoing pandemic, the holidays, and these two teams being among the worst in the NFL, it’s become a little muted this year. For an Eagles team playing so badly, they have a ton of storylines headed towards the end of this season. Will Jalen Hurts run upgrade him permanently to the starting position or will Carson Wentz bounce back next season? Is this the end of the Doug Pedersen Era? Time will only tell, and we’ll have to wait and see what this offseason looks like but for now, there is some football to be played.
The Eagles are in a precarious position of having to choose between Carson Wentz and Hurts after this season is finished. It's not a good position for either of them. I will say this about Wentz -- after the Eagles' last gasp failed against Arizona last Sunday, Wentz was the first one to console Hurts if anyone bothered to notice. In Jalen Hurts' two starts this season, the Eagles have rushed for 363 yards (181.5 per game) and Miles Sanders is finally getting the chance to consistently run the ball. In those two games, Hurts had 29 rushes, 169 yards, 5.8 YPC, and one touchdown. Miles Sanders had 31 rushes, 179 yards, 5.8 YPC, and two touchdowns. The most impressive thing to come out of the Eagles locker room has been the defensive end group of Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, and Vinny Curry. As a package, they’ve been able to total 21.5 sacks and forced five fumbles this season. They’ll have to dominate against (what is on paper) an overmatched pair of tackles.
It would be impossible to have a season end without any controversy, but alas, there is in some way or another. But for now, let’s see how this raging tire fire of a season ends. Kickoff is at a 4:25 start on FOX.