Philadelphia Eagles News

Lawlor: Next Up, The Dallas Cowboys

The Eagles have eight games left in the 2018 season. Let's take a look at the teams the Eagles will be playing. Five of the games are against division rivals, so the Eagles control their own destiny. Win those games and you win the NFC East. Lose a couple of those games and you'll be scoreboard watching until the very end of the season.

There are two games against Dallas and Washington. Those will all be huge. There is a rematch with the struggling Giants. The NFC East usually is one of the best divisions in football. That isn't the case this year. To give you an idea of some of the struggles, the Eagles are the top scoring team in the division. The Eagles are 21st in the league in scoring. While the rest of the NFL is scoring left and right, NFC East teams are kicking field goals or turning the ball over. I'd love to tell you that is mainly due to good defense, but that wouldn't be an honest answer.

The Cowboys are up next on the schedule. They are 3-5 after a tough loss to Tennessee on Monday Night Football. Jerry Jones made some changes during their bye week, trading for receiver Amari Cooper and firing the offensive line coach. The Dallas defense has been outstanding this season, but the offense has been a mess. Jones thought he could help that side of the ball.

The Cowboys scored 14 points against the Titans and didn't look particularly good on offense. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 61 yards and Dak Prescott was sacked five times. Cooper did help out the passing game a bit, but they have bigger issues than just the level of receiver play.

There were questions about play calling and quarterback play last year. Those same questions are back this season. While the Dallas defense is among the best in the league this year, linebacker Sean Lee got hurt on Monday night. That unit isn't the same without him. If that defense goes down a notch, there will be real problems in Dallas.

Washington leads the NFC East right now with a record of 5-3. No one is really sure what to make of this team. The Redskins haven't trailed in any of their wins. They haven't led in any of their losses. That is highly unusual.

New quarterback Alex Smith hasn't been the player that Washington expected. In Kansas City, he had the great coaching of Andy Reid, Doug Pederson, and Matt Nagy. Smith had much better weapons with the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt are dynamic players. Washington doesn't have anyone on that level. Jordan Reed is somewhat of a weapon. So is Chris Thompson. The problem is that they are complementary players.

Washington is feeding the ball to 33-year-old Adrian Peterson. He's playing better than anyone expected, but this isn't the day and age to feed a power back. Washington is 23rd in the league in pass plays of 20 yards or more. You need those plays to score points.

The Redskins have played good defense. Da'Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen are outstanding up front. Former Temple standout Matt Ioannidis leads the team with 6.5 sacks. D.J. Swearinger is making a lot of plays on the back end.

Washington just lost to Atlanta, 38-14. That was a discouraging way to close out the first half of the season. To make matters worse, the Redskins lost a pair of starters from the offensive line including former top-five pick Brandon Scherff. They also lost their fastest wide receiver in Paul Richardson for the year.

That team needs Alex Smith and the passing game to really get going if it is going to make it to the postseason. I have my doubts.

There isn't a whole lot to say about the Giants. They thought they could have one last hurrah with Eli Manning, but this season has been a total disaster. They are 1-7. Rookie Saquon Barkley has been a sensation. The rest of the team, not so much.

The big question regarding the Eagles will be who the Giants play at quarterback. The last time someone other than Manning started against the Eagles was Y.A. Tittle in 1964. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but it seems like that. Will the Eagles face Manning a final time or will they see a backup?

There are three non-division opponents – the Saints, Rams, and Texans. The bad news is that all of them are leading their divisions.

Houston started 0-3, but has now won six games in a row. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is playing well and the Texans have some studs on defense. Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt are a dynamic 1-2 punch. You aren't going to block them for a whole game.

The Rams started 8-0 and looked great. They went to New Orleans on Sunday and lost a shootout, 45-35. Despite that loss, the Rams have felt like a Super Bowl team this year. They are good on offense, defense, and special teams.

The Rams are 8-1. The Saints are 7-1. I know the Saints won on Sunday, but I give the Rams an overall advantage because they play better defense.

New Orleans already has four games this year with 40 or more points. That's ridiculous. Drew Brees is completing 76 percent of his passes. That's insane. The Saints' offense is something else.

The Saints' defense is another story. New Orleans has given up 35 or more points three times this year. The Saints struggle on third downs and in the red zone. I don't trust that defense in critical situations. We'll see if they start to play better in the second half of the season.

The Eagles are going to have their hands full with the remaining non-divisional opponents. Their quarterbacks are playing at a high level and they will all put up points. Jim Schwartz and the defense need to play their best football of the year in those games.

There are going to be some real challenges down the stretch, but that's good. You need honest answers about your team. The next two months will tell us a lot about this Eagles team.

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Eagles Message Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. You can also find his work at where he is the site's editor.

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