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Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Preview and Pick
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Preview and Pick
At the star of the season, many experts pegged the Dallas Cowboys as a team that could win the NFC east, but few thought that the Philadelphia Eagles would have a chance. Now just a few weeks into the NFL season, not only is the Eagles a contender in the NFC but they have a realistic chance at winning the division. This game could provide pivotal at the season end when the division is decided.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Odds
The NFL opening odds for this week shows just how close this game is expected to be. The line opened with a pick ‘em as the point spread but the line has moved drastically since its opening. After an impressive game against the Washington Redskins the public is jumping on the Cowboys bandwagon and over 81 percent of the early wagers are flying in on the Boys. This has moved the line a big three points and in favor of the Eagles, which is odd considering on who the public is betting on. This could be an indication of early smart money on Philadelphia.
The Eagles are known for a high passing and scoring offense but they are actually one of the best teams in the NFL at running the rock. The Eagles averaged 5.0 yards per rush inside the tackles on Sunday (99 yards on 20 rushes), which opened up the play-action game for Nick Foles in his first start of the season. Foles' average pass after play-action fakes traveled more than 9 yards downfield (2.8 yards without play action), and he connected on a pair of throws deeper than 35 yards downfield for touchdowns to DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper.
If the Cowboys have a tough time stopping the run it could be a long day for Dallas.
The latest sports betting trends for this game are a good indication of the outcome. The total has gone OVER in 8 of Philadelphia's last 12 games when playing at home against Dallas and the total has gone OVER in 7 of Philadelphia's last 8 games at home. Dallas is 4-2 straight up in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia which includes 1-4 against the spread (ATS) in its last 5 games when playing Philadelphia. Philadelphia is 0-5 straight up in its last 5 games at home and 4-14 straight up in its last 18 games overall, but it is worth noting that this is an entirely new Eagles football team.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Pick
With plenty of time to go before kickoff of this week, I will wait to announce my pick when we get closer to game day. Check back the day of the event for my pick on this great game.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware has not missed a game since entering the NFL in 2005, but that streak could be in question because of an injury he suffered Sunday night.
Ware suffered a pulled quadriceps during the team's 31-16 win against the Washington Redskins. A source told ESPN Dallas that Ware is not likely to play this week but the team would not rule him out yet, either.
Ware said Monday he is doubtful to play against the Eagles. At 3-3, Dallas and Philadelphia share the lead in the NFC East.
"My body recovers really fast," Ware said. "I'm not going to be out that long."
Ware said he was feeling better.
"It wouldn't be 100 percent if I had to go out and play right now," Ware said. "There wouldn't be a point to this day. If I had to play, I wouldn't. I couldn't get off the ball."
Sources told ESPN earlier Monday that Ware could be sidelined three to four weeks.
Running back DeMarco Murray was injured against Washington as well and likely will be unable to play Sunday against Philadelphia, a source said. Murray suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Ware and Murray had MRIs on Monday.
After the game, Ware said he was fine and was walking without a limp. He has played in 134 straight games, making 133 starts. The only start he missed came Dec. 19, 2009, against the New Orleans Saints, when he had two sacks in a reserve role. Through six games this season, Ware has had to deal with a recurring stinger, a back strain, dehydration, getting poked in the eye and now the quadriceps strain.
With DeMarco Murray out, unheralded Joseph Randle and Phillip Tanner will be expected to carry the load against the Eagles, writes Todd Archer. Blog
Murray left Sunday's game after seven carries for 29 yards and a touchdown. Last year, Felix Jones played through a similar injury to both knees. Murray has yet to make it through a full season without getting injured. As a rookie he broke his ankle, and last year he missed six games with a sprained foot.
If Murray cannot play against the Eagles, the Cowboys would turn to rookie Joseph Randle, who had 11 carries for 17 yards and a touchdown against Washington. Lance Dunbar didn't play Sunday because of a hamstring strain, and Phillip Tanner had one carry for 2 yards.
Jason Garrett admits the Cowboys’ upcoming game against Philadelphia is unlike any recent encounter with the Eagles. For so long, Andy Reid was the coach of the Eagles. He was a familiar opponent. Now Philadelphia is run by Chip Kelly, who brought his highly-caffeinated offensive system from Oregon.
“It is a little different,” Garrett said. “Typically you would know your division opponents a little bit more. It feels a little more like another kind of game, a conference game or a game with an AFC team.”
The Cowboys spent the off-season watching tape of the Ducks. They also talked to college coaches about defending Kelly’s offense, which functions at a fast pace and, as of Monday morning, was third in the NFL in total yardage.
“It’s a little bit different because we haven’t seen this stuff for years and years and years,” Garrett said
One of the biggest areas of focus with the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason was red zone production.
In 2012, the Cowboys ranked 20th in the NFL in red-zone touchdown efficiency with 25 touchdowns on 49 attempts. They were not effective running the ball (just seven red zone touchdowns on the ground) and were penalized too often (11 times).
Through the first six games this season the Cowboys are fourth in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency with 15 touchdowns in 23 attempts. They have four red zone rushing touchdowns.
Only Denver has more red zone points than the Cowboys, 167 to 120. In their last two games the Cowboys have scored touchdowns on eight of their last 10 red zone attempts. Dez Bryant is difficult to defend just about everywhere, but five of his six touchdowns have come inside the red zone. Tony Romo has 10 touchdown passes and just one interception from inside the opponent’s 20 thus far.
“When you can run the football in the red zone, you have a chance to be really good,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I think as much as anything else we’re running it better down there, and then as a consequence you get some favorable matchups on the edges, and you’ve just got to cash in. I think Tony has been really good finding those matchups, delivering those throws, and guys have made a lot of plays.”
The penalty problem has not gone away with four in the first six games. A Tyron Smith false start against Denver at the Broncos 3 was a critical play in their 51-48 loss because they had to settle for a field goal.
“It’s happened a couple times this year, and the results have been similar to what they’ve been (in the past),” Garrett said. “It’s hard to overcome those. So when we’ve played cleaner down there, certainly from the mechanics-of-the-game standpoint, I think we’ve played better and given ourselves a better chance to be successful.”
The Dallas Cowboys aren’t sure which Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback they’re going to see on Sunday.
Michael Vick missed last Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay because of a hamstring injury. Nick Foles got the start and led the Eagles to a 31-20 victory behind 296 passing yards and three touchdowns.
So who would the Cowboys rather face?
“I would like to see Foles,” Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said Monday. “Vick is like a rabbit. He’s all over the place. Foles is more like a stationary guy in the pocket. Both of them are awesome quarterbacks. Foles is playing his butt off these last couple of games. Either one, but I would take Foles over Vick.
“Foles can throw it. It’s going to be a challenge either way.”
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was a little more conservative with his response.
“I think they’re both good quarterbacks, and I think they’ve proven that over their careers, and I think they’ve proven that in this offense,” Garrett said. “They’ve both been productive. Again, they do it a little bit differently. You don’t see Foles make the dynamic plays with his feet that Michael Vick has become known for, but Michael Vick can throw the ball from the pocket, he can make those plays, and Nick Foles shows he can move the ball around the field.
“He’s a mature quarterback. He showed that last year in the time that he played and he’s certainly shown that this year in the couple chances he’s had to play.”
The Eagles are only the second team in NFL history with 1,500 yards passing and 1,050 yards rushing through the first six games. They are the fourth team with 400 yards in each of their first six games.
The Eagles lead the NFL this season in rushing (178.5 yards per game), yards per rush (5.4), plays of 20 yards or more (42) and passing plays of 20 yards or more (34). They are third in total offense (449.8 yards per game), third in yards per play (6.6) and third in yards on first down (6.7).
After solid performances against the slumping Eli Manning and rookie Mike Glennon, the Philadelphia Eagles' defense must see if it can hold its own against Tony Romo on Sunday.
He has his flaws, but Romo is playing at a very high level this season.
“When you study him over time, he's either really hot or really off, and sometimes it's through the course of one single game,” Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said Tuesday. “He may be first-half hot, second-half cold, and vice versa. You have to play him all the way through four quarters. I think you’ve got to challenge the receivers and challenge him to find the opening and keep moving it on him. I think he'll make some plays and I think he'll make some mistakes.”
Romo has been making a lot more plays than mistakes this season. He is completing 70.2 percent of his passes, has a rating of 108.6 and has thrown 14 touchdowns against just three interceptions. Of course, he threw one pick in the clutch against Denver a couple weeks ago, and that drew more attention than all the touchdowns combined.
But the Dallas Cowboys have involved Romo in designing the game plan this season, and he has evolved into a better, smarter quarterback. With running back DeMarco Murray likely out Sunday, Romo will be relied on to throw the ball even more.
“They have got some great weapons and a quarterback that knows how to distribute them, and that's really what you come against,” Davis said. “The big passing offenses, quarterback that can get the ball to playmakers, and the other part of that is having the playmakers and Dallas is loaded with playmakers.”
Quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers had huge games against this developing Eagles defense. This game will be a test of whether Davis’ guys have gotten that much better, or whether Glennon’s ability to convert third downs and exploit mistakes will be magnified against Romo.
The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles will be playing for first place in the NFC East on Sunday in Philadelphia, though the rivalry's usual list of playmakers suiting up is likely to be a little shorter.
The Cowboys could be without running back DeMarco Murray, and defensive end DeMarcus Ware could miss the first game of his eight-year career.
The Eagles (3-3), already without wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for the season, are going into a second straight week without a definitive starter at quarterback as they look to snap an eight-game home losing streak.
Neither offense has sputtered much through six weeks.
The Eagles' third-ranked offense is averaging 449.8 yards, exactly 100 more than the Cowboys. Dallas (3-3) is second in scoring with 30.5 points per game while the Eagles are fourth at 27.7.
Fifty-one of the Eagles' 67 points the last two weeks have come with Nick Foles at quarterback after he replaced an injured Michael Vick late in the second quarter of a 36-21 win over the New York Giants in Week 5.
He played the whole game in last Sunday's 31-20 win at Tampa Bay while Vick suited up as the team's emergency quarterback to rest a hamstring injury.
"I feel really comfortable here. I feel comfortable with our personnel, our plays, everything," Foles said. "It helps when you have a great relationship with the players, the coaches, and when you go into the game you're all on the same page. ... Everybody stuck together, and it was another team win."
Foles is taking the majority of the reps in practice this week and is likely to start for a second week in place of Vick, who said he isn't worrying about who is the No. 1 quarterback when he returns.
"He's a great football player," Vick said of Foles. "He does exactly what he needs to do when he goes out on the field. That's not something I'm going to worry about. I'm worrying about getting healthy."
Foles was named NFC offensive player of the week after throwing for 296 yards and three touchdowns while running for another against the Buccaneers.
He lost both games he played against the Cowboys last year, starting the last meeting, a 38-33 defeat at Dallas on Dec. 2.
With Maclin sidelined, wide receiver DeSean Jackson is having a resurgent season. He has 34 catches and is second in the league with 589 receiving yards. His five touchdowns are tied for sixth after he scored a total of six in the last two seasons.
The Eagles have the league's top-ranked rushing offense (178.5 per game), led by LeSean McCoy's league-high 630 yards. Despite missing the last game and a half, Vick is still in the top 20 with 307 yards. They've averaged 139.0 yards on the ground the last two weeks.
The Cowboys' 25th-ranked rushing offense (84.8 ypg) would be thrilled with that total, as Murray has 428 of their 509 yards on the ground. He left in the second quarter of the Cowboys' 31-16 win Sunday over Washington with an MCL sprain in his left knee.
"We have to be able to run the football well when DeMarco Murray is not our runner," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
A week after throwing for 506 yards and five touchdowns in a loss to Denver, quarterback Tony Romo had 170 yards on 18 of 30 passing to direct the win over Washington.
He's thrown three interceptions in six games after tying his career high with 19 a season ago. His 70.2 completion percentage is better than any season total since taking over the starting job in 2006.
Romo is 7-6 as a starter against the Eagles.
Denver has taught both teams offense only goes so far. The Eagles allowed 52 points to the Broncos in Week 4 while the Cowboys surrendered 51 to the Broncos in Week 5.
The Cowboys are allowing 308.2 passing yards per game, ahead of only the Eagles (314.5) and Broncos (337.7).
The Dallas pass rush, already without defensive end Anthony Spencer, likely will be without Ware, who referred to himself as doubtful after straining his right quadriceps in the first quarter against Washington.
The Cowboys are 0-2 on the road, but the Eagles' home woes extend far beyond this 0-2 start.
They've lost eight in a row in Philadelphia for the first time since Sept. 20, 1936-Sept. 21, 1937. A ninth-straight home loss would set a franchise record.
The last time Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter met a small running back, he allowed two touchdown receptions and was benched.
CarterCarter gave up two scores to the San Diego Chargers' Danny Woodhead during a Week 4 loss. His efforts were so bad that Cowboys coaches replaced him with Ernie Sims for a bulk of the second half. It was Woodhead's ability to run wheel routes quickly that gave Carter fits.
On Sunday, Carter takes on another small running back in LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles. This time, Carter said he'll be ready for a running back who uses his speed out of the backfield to make defenders miss.
Both running backs are similar in size (Woodhead is 5-8; McCoy 5-11) and speed. While McCoy is more of an accomplished back -- he's rushed for a league-leading 630 yards this season -- both players can do almost the same things with their speed.
"You watch film and you know what he's capable of doing," Carter said of McCoy. "You just have to be up for it and we have to communicate with each other. He's real quick and shifty."
To prepare for the Eagles' up-tempo offense, the Cowboys won't gather in a huddle as much and will use hand signals from the sidelines to call defensive positioning. Middle linebacker Sean Lee will get the call from the sideline, but defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will also make a second call in anticipation of a quick play being called on the next down.
"You just have to make sure your techniques are sharpened," Carter said. "I need to focus on my keys and just play the ball and play my man at the same time."
In their past three games the Dallas Cowboys defense has been on the field for 70, 73 and 75 plays.
That might be good preparation for what they will see Sunday from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly loves to play fast and get as many plays as possible.
“Coach [Jason Garrett] told us they get plays off every 15 seconds or so,” safety Barry Church said.
To prepare for the pace, the Cowboys have had A and B scout teams during practice. As soon as the A team finishes, the B team rushes to the line for a play.
“You just simply have them go faster and make sure the ball is snapped in a certain amount of time, and that’s a big part of this game,” Garrett said. “They will challenge you with tempo. They challenge everybody with tempo and they run their plays fast. We have to make sure we’re on top of it and when the ball is snapped play the defense we want to play.”
It’s not just how fast the Eagles play. It’s how fast their players are as well.
“You’ve got LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson, so you’ve got all these demons out there,” Church said. “They’re pretty legit.”
Defensive communication will be an even bigger key. Garrett said the Eagles do not substitute often in order to play at their pace. If they do substitute, the umpire will make sure the Cowboys are allowed to change their personnel.
“Usually we play free and strong with the safeties, but this week I don’t know how we’re going to be able to get to our side,’ Church said. “We might have to play right and left safety just because the communication is going to be hard once they get at that rapid pace.”