Maybe it’s just me but … this is one of the oddest Eagles-Cowboys pre-game weeks that I can ever remember. Anybody with me on this one? Both teams are battling injuries in an extremely significant way. Both teams are 3-3. The rest of the league has, it seems, put both the Eagles and the Cowboys in the rear-view mirror. Hey, note to everyone: The playoffs don’t start next week. October is about scratching out wins and positioning for the postseason. Ain’t no style points for winning. Just win. This game is as big as ever, with first place in the NFC East on the line. It’s huge. And it’s Eagles-Cowboys. Can’t wait.
Maybe it’s just me but … the 2019 Eagles Rookie Class is on center stage with No. 1 pick Andre Dillard set to start at left tackle and No. 2 pick Miles Sanders a large part of the offense. The Eagles are excited about both of these players, but there are growing pains to consider. But, hey, they’re going to be in prime time against the archrival Cowboys. Dillard lines up against veteran Robert Quinn, a crafty, relentless edge rusher who has every move in the book. The Eagles are going to have to consider helping Dillard, and the rookie is going to have to show something not only in pass protection but in the run game. As for Sanders, he’s been a big-play maker in the passing game, and while his numbers are good in the running game, Sanders has undeniable talent. It’s a big moment for the Draft Class.
Maybe it’s just me but … is this game a perfect example of the NFL’s battle of attrition? The Eagles aren’t going to have Jason Peters at left tackle. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan and cornerback Avonte Maddox remain out, along with running back Darren Sproles. Linebacker Nigel Bradham is a question mark with an ankle injury and didn't practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson didn’t practice on Wednesday and is questionable for Sunday. Cornerback Jalen Mills practiced on Wednesday, but he hasn’t played in a game in 12 months, so it’s asking a lot for him to make a significant impact in his first action on the field. Cornerback Ronald Darby practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday, but he’s coming back from a hamstring injury and those are extreeeeeeeemmmmmlllllly touchy injuries. With all of that, the Eagles might be in better shape than Dallas, which could be without starting offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, top wide receiver Amari Cooper, slot receiver Randall Cobb, top cornerback Byron Jones, and nickel cornerback Anthony Brown, none of whom practiced on Wednesday.
Maybe it’s just me but … aren’t you expecting to see the Cowboys hand off or throw to running back Ezekiel Elliott 40 times on Sunday night? The Cowboys, if those injuries keep their top players out, will be down to Michael Gallup as the top wide receiver – and no offense to Gallup, a very good receiver with speed – and Jason Witten, the ageless, box-out-for-position tight end, as the two top receiving options for quarterback Dak Prescott. What’s even odder is that the Eagles have seen Elliott only four times in his career – once in his rookie season of 2016, once in 2017, and twice last year. Elliott is 4-0 against the Eagles, averaging 4.82 yards per carry – he’s gone over 100 yards in three of those games – and he also has 25 receptions. In the last meeting back in December, Elliott had 28 carries for 113 yards and 12 receptions for another 79 yards. So, yeah, 40 or so touches sounds about right for Sunday night.
Maybe it’s just me but … the fact that the Eagles play so well at AT&T Stadium means something. Yes, it’s the second of three road games. Yes, the Eagles are coming off a tough loss in Minnesota. And the travel can be taxing. But history says the Eagles are going to play very well against the Cowboys. The Eagles lost in overtime last season at Dallas, but had won four of the previous five games in Arlington, Texas. And just to get prepared for something special, the Eagles and Cowboys have gone to overtime in three of their last four games at AT&T Stadium. There is just something special and extraordinary about this rivalry.
Maybe it’s just me but … I get the sense that head coach Doug Pederson is going to put an aggressive game plan together and look for a few “chunk” plays to loosen up this Dallas defense, which is still good even with the injuries. The linebackers are great. The pass rush is dangerous. The Eagles' wide receivers have just seven passing plays of 20-plus yards since Jackson left the lineup in Week 2. Sanders has been a plus in the passing game, but the Eagles really need something to pop on the outside with the wide receivers.
Maybe it’s just me but … as tough as it’s been for the Eagles in the first half of games this season, it’s just the same for Dallas. Consider: In the Eagles’ three losses to the Vikings, Lions, and Falcons, they’ve been outscored 20-10 in the first quarter and 54-26 in the first half, scoring only two touchdowns. In the Cowboys’ current three-game losing streak, Dallas hasn’t scored a touchdown until the second half. So, something has to give, or Sunday night’s game is going to be awfully slow in the first half.