This is the weirdest Cowboys week I’ve ever experienced. Usually an Eagles/Cowboys game with the division lead on the line would evoke some emotion and worry/excitement all week, but I just haven’t felt it. Nothing at all. Just plain indifference towards a game that’s normally circled on my calendar.
Perhaps it’s the Cowboys’ three consecutive losses (culminating in the loss last week to the winless Jets) or the Eagles’ pathetic showing in Minnesota, but these two teams have been very difficult to get excited about. Both teams started the season with serious Super Bowl aspirations. The Cowboys mowed through their first three opponents (who currently have a combined three wins), then have proceeded to lose every game since. The Eagles gave the Packers their only loss on the season, but on the other hand, also gave the Falcons their only win.
Both of these teams are Jekyll and Hyde. Both of them are abysmal in the first quarter, occasionally play well throughout the next three, and are totally unpredictable. And they are both leading the NFC (L)East at 3-3. One of them will win this game though, and with that, have control of the division. Which team will that be? Good luck figuring that out.
If anyone tries to tell you they know which of either of these teams is going to show up and play well on Sunday night in Dallas, I’d ask them how much they’d like to bet on it and see if they are still talking. I won’t be surprised if it’s a blowout, a close well-played game, or an absolute dumpster fire by both teams.
Things to watch for:
The Clapper Getting Snubbed: We all know that Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, AKA “The Clapper,” makes his money by being the head cheerleader for the the Dallas Cowboys. No matter how dire the situation, you can count on him clapping, clapping, and then clapping some more. When he takes a break from clapping by himself, he is usually trying to clap other people’s hands via the “High Five.” Last week, no one wanted to slap hands while they were losing to the winless Jets.
There has been talk that this could possibly be his last week as head coach if they lose to the Eagles. While personally I’d hate to see Jerry Jones’ personal puppet get canned, this feels long overdue. Be watching for how the Cowboys players interact with their coach (for now).
Cowboys Injuries: All week, the talk was that the Cowboys were going to be without wide receiver Amari Cooper for Sunday, after he missed most of the Jets game with a thigh injury. Also both offensive tackles were on the injury list until yesterday as well. Unfortunately, it looks like all three will play on Sunday. It will remain to be seen how effective they are though. Look to see if they are playing and actually contributing on Sunday night.
Can Doug Back Up His Non-Guarantee Guarantee? On Monday morning during an interview with 94WIP, Doug gave this statement:
“We’re going down to Dallas, and our guys are gonna be ready to play. And we’re gonna win that football game, and when we do, we’re in first place in the NFC East.”
While I love Doug’s supposed confidence in his team, haven’t we given enough bulletin board material to other teams lately? (Looking at you, former Eagle Zach Brown) A few hours later on Monday, Doug tried to talk back his guarantee by saying that he didn’t actually use the word guarantee. (Insert eye roll here) What a goofy thing to do. I’m not sure how backtracking after you say “We’re gonna win” inspires and shows confidence in your team. Listen to if the commentators talk about Doug’s prediction, and see what Doug has to say after the game.
Keys to Victory:
Find a Secondary: Or a third-dary or a fourth-dary. Yes, yes the Eagles are getting Jalen Mills back on Sunday. Hopefully the Green Goblin has been working on double moves while he’s been injured for the last year, or this Sunday is not going to look much different than last Sunday. The Eagles cannot give up long passes and still have a shot to win the game.
Win the Coin Toss, Take the Ball: Only once in Doug Pederson’s tenure have the Eagles won the coin toss and chosen to receive the ball. It was in 2016, his first year as head coach. The other 31 times they have won the toss, they have deferred and let the other team have the ball first. It’s time to try something new, Doug. Obviously deferring is not working for this team. To constantly get behind and try to have come from behind victories is not a good recipe for success. The Eagles need an early lead to win on Sunday, and taking the ball if they win the coin toss is what needs to be done.
Andre Dillard Plays Like a 1st Round Draft Pick: Andre Dillard will make his first start this week in place of injured statue Jason Peters. Andre has played in every game so far except one – and has not played well, to say the least. The knock on him coming out of college was that he was only a pass protector, not a run blocker. From what I have seen of his pass protection, there must be zero run blocking whatsoever. He needs to play 75% as well as he was touted to be during the draft. He needs to keep DeMarcus Lawrence’s zero sack streak alive for the Eagles to win.
I think we are in for one of the ugliest football games you’ve ever seen. I do not think either team is going to play well. Both will have chances to take over the game and fail to do so. Unfortunately, one team usually scores more than the other, and this week I think that is the Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles will have to take a really long look in the mirror this week to see if they recognize any resemblance of the magic from 2017.
Eagles 17 – Cowboys 21