Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
It’s the moving object against stoppable force as the Philadelphia Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC) in a fight for superiority in the mediocre NFC East sub.
How bad is that?
The Eagles (2-4-1) are the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to lead a division after Week 7 with two or fewer wins, according to Elias Sports Bureau. With the exception of the shortened 1982 season in strikes, when technically the league had no divisions, NFC East’s combined winning percentage of 0.268 (7-20-1) is the second lowest in a division. until week 7 since the merger. Only the 1984 AFC Central (.214) was worse.
When it’s this horrible, the ceiling is pretty close to the floor. Dallas (2-5), for example, has the second-best chance among NFC East teams to advance to the playoffs (8.4%) behind Philly, per ESPN Football Power Index, yet has the NFL’s fourth-highest chance of securing the No.1 pick in the 2021 draft (4.3%).
Eagles reporter Tim McManus and Cowboys reporter Todd Archer assess the damage before this game and determine which team is best prepared to succeed.
McManus: Todd, the Eagles offensive line is a wreck. Four of their top six linemen are on the injured or physically unable to play list (Brandon Brooks, Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Andre Dillard) and the right tackle Johnson Way now has a sprained knee to go with his bad ankle. Center Jason kelce was the only constant. There was so much traffic around him that I would forgive him if he struggled to keep the names of all his teammates.
Strategist Carson Wentz paid the price. He has peaked in the league 76 times and is tied for first in sacks at 28. He has also been blitzed 97 times so far – second tallest in the league behind New York Giants QB Daniel Jones – then maybe defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will turn up some Tabasco-like heat this week once he’s done blushing his own eyes.
Archer: Do you think the Eagles line is a wreck? Have you seen the Cowboys line? Tyron smith is done after playing two games due to neck surgery. Lael collins is out for the season due to hip surgery. Zack Martin didn’t play last week because of a concussion, and did you see how brutal it was? Six Washington sacks and zero fights after quarterback Andy dalton was tricked out with a nasty blow by Jon bostic. The Cowboys line has the appearance of a fourth preseason game. They have already started five different combinations up front. Oh, I forgot the central point. Travis Frederick has somewhat surprisingly retired during the offseason, and his replacement, Joe looney, has missed the last three games with a knee injury. That put the 2020 fourth-round pick Tyler biadasz there maybe a little sooner than the Cowboys had hoped.
Let’s talk about defense for a moment. You referred to the Nolan Tabasco-in-the-eye incident. Isn’t that how things went this season? The Cowboys have allowed 243 points. There were 11 others seasons in which they did not allow 243 points, excluding the 1982 strike season. In 1993, the Cowboys went 12-4 and allowed 243 points.
And unfortunately, the Cowboys defensive group has been in good health compared to its counterpart. I don’t know how it gets better. Now go ahead and tell me how insecure the Iggles are Malcolm jenkins.
McManus: I’m not going to pretend the Eagles’ problems in defense are close to those of Dallas. The Cowboys defense stinks. I have never seen a band perform so poorly in my life.
The defense of Philly did not come at a price, however. The Eagles are allowing 28 points per game – that’s in the lower half of the league – and have generated just three interceptions this season, which is the third-lowest total in the NFL. They have the lowest salary cap dollars committed for the linebacker position ($ 4.3 million) in the league, and the opposite tight ends thank them for it just about every week.
But at least the defense has remained relatively healthy. The offense was totally torn apart by injuries. The Eagles lost their two starting wide receivers in Jalen reagor and DeSean Jackson (Reagor could come back from a thumb tear this week) and their first two Zach Ertz and Dallas goedert, and they worked without backing down Miles sanders recently because of a knee problem.
Add to that the woes of the O line and it is a miracle that Wentz improves as the season progresses. Now imagine if he had any skill position players such as Amari Cooper and Lamb CeeDee available to him. There’s a lot of talent out there in Dallas and not much to show, Mr. Archer.
Archer: Walk ? Am i that old The Eagles have three interceptions. The Cowboys have one. They made 183 pass attempts without a choice. They recovered two fumbles. Their star players didn’t play that way. Defensive end By Marcus Lawrence has a full bag closing over nearly a calendar year. Jaylon smith, their highest-paid linebacker, sometimes seemed lost. The secondary has given up the big games. The Cowboys have allowed 31 plays from 20 yards or more. Now it’s bad. We’ll give it to the Cowboys.
And if we want to get back on the offensive: Running back Ezekiel Elliott has yet to play a 100-yard game. It was the longest cold snap of his professional career. He also lost four fumbles which were turned into four touchdowns by the opposition.
McManus: It’s getting harder and harder to compete with Dallas’ incompetence. But a tie between the Eagles and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 is all that separates those two teams in the standings, and as you say, the Cowboys have been a disaster.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman needs to warm up for a volatile draft that deprived the team of players of impact (taking JJ Arcega-Whiteside more than DK Metcalf in the 2019 Draft still has that apoplectic fanbase) and forced her to rely more on aging veterans, which is why this team has so many injuries.
Meanwhile, coach Doug Pederson fails to rock his team to his first in a ditch and gets to play the “underdog” track.
And have you seen the playcall to the end Hakeem Butler in fourth and goal against the New York Giants last week? The most important game in the game at this point and they designed it for a newcomer playing their first offensive snap? My God.
Archer: At least Pederson and his team are around. Coach Mike McCarthy could get through this season, mainly thanks to the lack of an offseason schedule, minicamp, training camp or preseason due to COVID-19. Who knew that it all really mattered? Although I’m not sure this is really the case as other teams that have endured the same seem to be doing fine. The Cowboys backed off.
McCarthy signed a five-year contract in January. I can’t imagine Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones would go away after a season after the patience he had to keep former coach Jason Garrett. It wouldn’t make sense. I would bet on a lot of staff changes, though.
The Eagles are in trouble. Some are legitimate. So are the Cowboys issues. But that’s where I throw the trump card.
No, not the asset, but the asset. At least the Eagles have Wentz. The Cowboys lost their leader, their best player and obviously the glue of the whole operation to Dak Prescott when he suffered an open fracture and dislocated right ankle.
Prescott covered so many things wrong with the Cowboys, it’s not even funny. And they’ll likely be Dalton-free on Sunday due to the concussion, too. Cowboys starter likely to be seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci.
And with that, the defense rests. Misery loves company, but the Cowboys have more misery than the Eagles.
McManus: OK you won. Or lose? I have nothing to counter DiNucci against Wentz. As Eagles fans like to say, “Dallas sucks.”