When bitter rivals the Cowboys and Eagles meet, it always makes for an entertaining affair. However, there hasn’t been a game in the rivalry in quite some time that is important as this one (4:15EST, Saturday). As is the story throughout much of the NFL, both teams will be vying to make it to the playoffs. The Cowboys are in full control of the division, with a Giants loss and Cowboys win, they will clinch. The Eagles find themselves on the outside looking in after a season of major disappointment. They will need to win their final two games, and a Giants loss against the Jets. As it stands, the Eagles only have a 12% chance of making the playoffs, according to Vegas oddsmakers. The first time these teams met this season, the Eagles won comfortably at home, 34-7. LeSean McCoy had a big day, with 185 yards and 2 TDs. McCoy had defensive coordinator Rob Ryan pulling his hair out every possession as he diced the Cowboys up with ease.
The Cowboys and Eagles could be so much better, but they have been underachievers to say the least. The Philadelphia “dream team” Eagles at the beginning of the year fully expected this division to be theirs, given the firepower on offense and defense. However, things haven’t gone so smoothly: the defense has failed to live up to its billing, Michael Vick has appeared to lose a step, and DeSean Jackson just wants to get paid. Consequently, it has been an absolute headache for head coach Andy Reid.
The second news broke of the Eagles signing coveted corner back Nnamdi Asomugha, they were already being praised as the best defense in the league. That obviously was a little premature, as the Eagles aren’t even regarded as a top-unit in the NFL at this point. The Eagles defense is vanilla at best. In total, the Eagles rank 10th in the league, while giving up 22.2, which is in the bottom half of the NFL. You may say that 10th isn’t bad; however, the teams they have held down aren’t exactly offensive juggernauts. In fact, their best effort was against the Cowboys in their 34-7 victory. The Cowboys looked to be sleepwalking through that game showing little energy, I don’t foresee them going through the motions in a game of this magnitude. It could be difficult for the defense to duplicate this performance against Tony Romo. The Eagles problems on defense are evident up the middle. They have rotated through a slew of linebackers to try and find the right fit, but have still struggled, as they are ranked 17th against the run. Expect a heavy dose of Felix Jones up the middle, with the possibility of him busting a few long scampers. Offensively the Eagles have begun to pour it on, putting up 45 points against an above average Jets defense. In the last three games, they have averaged just less than 30 points a game at 28.3. I expect the Eagles to put a full game together under the dome in Dallas. The Cowboys defense is difficult to run on (7th), but can be exploited by a talented back like LeSean McCoy. Against the pass, they are extremely susceptible, as the secondary continues to give up big plays on a regular basis (21st).
Eagles vs. Cowboys Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Philadelphia Eagles +1
@Dallas Cowboys -1
Over 50.5 (-110)
Under 50.5 (-110)
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Eagles vs. Cowboys Pick:
Before I go any further, this game is going to come with a disclaimer. *If the Giants win, the season is effectively over for the Eagles. Regardless of what transpires in this game, the Eagles will not have a shot at making the playoffs.
Nevertheless, I expect both teams to come out and provide some offensive fireworks. The side bet is a little tricky, but the total is the safer bet in my opinion. The Eagles have been heating up just at the right time, and the Cowboys are not going to flop over like they did in Philadelphia. Not on Christmas Eve with owner Jerry Jones carefully monitoring this one from his private suite. Demarco Murray will be out for this game, but Felix Jones has quietly asserted himself back in the offense after returning. The Cowboys and Eagles in their last three games have put up some big numbers. The Cowboys have amassed an average of 26 points with 393 yards, while the Eagles are at 28.3 points with 329.7 yards. Take the over, and stay away from the side before you are aware of the final score in the Giants/Jets meeting.