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Dallas vs Philadelphia: NFL Preview and Vegas Lines

Philadelphia Eagles() @ Dallas Cowboys()

  • Where: AT&T Stadium. Arlington, TX
  • When: December 9, 2018 12:00 am EST

Some weeks ago, the Cowboys-Eagles rivalry did not look all that appealing or significant. Dallas wasn’t yet coming off its biggest win of the season, a corker with the New Orleans Saints that ended with the ‘Boys preserving a 13-10 lead to the end. Philadelphia wasn’t finding a 2nd wind in its defense of the Lombardi Trophy…yet.

The teams are now at .500 (Philly) and above .500 (Dallas at 7-5) and will be jousting for the NFC East crown on Sunday at Jerry World.

NFL odds-makers like the Cowboys, but only by about as much as the home crowd advantage is perceived to be worth on average. As in, just about a field goal. Philly is taking (+3.5) points as the Over/Under total is set at a cautious (43) points (but is ticking up slightly).

Nothing against New Orleans, but it was satisfying to see the Dallas Cowboys upset Drew Brees and the Saints in prime time last week. After all, TV pundits had all but given New Orleans the Super Bowl crown and ended the season’s suspense nice and early. The NFL is just never that predictable.

Jason Garrett’s team entered the contest as substantial underdogs and put on a defensive clinic. Brees was held to just 127 yards passing, and the Saints’ ground game was all but non-existent. Jourdan Lewis of the Silver Star intercepted the future HOF’er to seal the deal, and Lewis and Michael Thomas of New Orleans began sniping at one another on social media after the contest.

The Cowboys were considered head-cases. Now, they’re getting in people’s heads.

It’s a weird scenario when a defense gets all the credit for a low-scoring game in which the winning offense definitely did its part. Dak Prescott didn’t put up many points, but the QB was super-accurate on short passes and moved the sticks twice as efficiently as his more legendary counterpart. The Cowboys controlled the egg relentlessly.

Meanwhile, the D is finally looking like the type of bruising, aggressive, solid unit that compliments Garrett’s stubborn straight-ahead playbook and an upgraded group of WRs that now includes Amari Cooper.

The Eagles are just glad to have a shot at the NFL postseason. Philly lost to the Cowboys on November 11th, failing to get anything going on the ground despite Carson Wentz constantly threatening through the air and connecting with TE Zach Ertz for explosive plays.

Philadelphia has rushed for 4.2 yards per carry in 2018, but opponents have rushed for 5.0 ypc against a defensive front-7 that somehow, someway turned soft after prevailing against Tom Brady in February. Fletcher Cox, Chris Long and Michael Bennett have combined for 15 sacks, but there isn’t enough steady pocket-pressure for the defensive backfield to thrive.

Yes, the Iggles have won 2 in a row, capitalizing on a pair of down-trending teams in New York and Washington. But the Redskins are having all kinds of problems, the Giants aren’t very good, and when Philadelphia met New Orleans a few weeks ago it was a massacre.

It’s a mistake to handicap the Eagles as a defending Super Bowl champion that is starting to get its act together. Truth be told, Philly doesn’t look anything like it did in 2017-18 even when the team is winning games.

It’s also an error to do what national pundits often do, which is to judge the Cowboys as if their ceiling is actually the floor. I don’t think Jerry’s boys could pull off 3 wins out of 5 in a fictional “series” with the Saints right now, let alone the Kansas City Chiefs or the L.A. Rams.

But even in a sloppy outing, the Cowboys have enough to beat the Eagles at home. I’m thinking that the lackluster run defense of Philadelphia will play right into Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott’s hands. Once the hosts have established the ground game, it will be easier for Dak to hit his shiny new-and-improved receiving corps with accurate balls.

As for Wentz, expect an exceptional QB to fight back with 2+ TD passes…but there’s only so much you can do when your team loses at the line of scrimmage.

Take the Cowboys to win by 4 or more points in Arlington.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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