With their season on the line, the (5-6) Dallas Cowboys host the (3-8) Philadelphia Eagles in a Sunday Night match-up that pits two NFC East rivals in a race to see which team will finish in the cellar of the division (8.20pm ET).
The Eagles are on the inside track to being the NFC East’s worst team. At 3-8, they are already two games behind Dallas and even further behind both the Washington Redskins and New York Giants. After starting the season with a 3-1 record, the Eagles have since been in a huge tailspin, failing to win another game. Adding insult to injury, not only has the team dropped their last seven in a row, but they also lost quarterback Michael Vick and running back Lesean McCoy to concussions and after the last game lost Desean Jackson for the rest of the season.
Most recently, the team even let go Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, who just last year had a career high 18 sacks with the team. This year, he has just 5.5 and was a member of a defensive unit that was not living up to lofty expectations.
The firing of head coach Andy Reid is all but a foregone conclusion. The Eagles are just playing for pride and at the very least, a top notch draft pick.
The Cowboys on the other hand have had a better season, although not my much. They have just two more wins than the Eagles and have seen offensive and defensive struggles as well. Their head coach Jason Garrett is also in risk of losing his job as former Cowboys’ players and coaches have noticed the lackadaisical atmosphere and carefree attitudes of the players, much the same as fans are seeing in Philadelphia.
In a way, this divisional match-up, which at the start of the season expected to carry with it so much promise and playoff expectations, is actually pitting two very similar teams against each other. The Cowboys however, still have an outside shot at the playoffs and will need to win this game if they hope to keep that slim chance alive.
Here are some of the top storylines to follow on Sunday night:
Which Quarterback Will Have More Costly Turnovers?
Part of the reason why both of these teams have failed to see the predicted success this season, is because they have turned the ball over far too many times.
- (PHI) QB Michael Vick: 18 TD, 14 INT, 3 FUM, 1 RUSH TD, 6 FUM: Total of: 19 TD and 23 TO.
- (DAL) QB Tony Romo: 16 TD, 15 INT, 3 FUM, 1 RUSH TD, 2 FUM: Total of: 17 TD and 20 TO
Just looking at the stats of the two starting quarterbacks shows how bad the touchdown to turnover ratio for these two teams is. Both Vick and Romo in fact have more turnovers than touchdowns. This has led to a minus turnover ratio for both teams and with it, not surprisingly, two losing records.
The biggest issue for both teams has not been the turnovers themselves but rather the timing of the turnovers. Costly late game turnovers have come back to cost Philadelphia and Dallas several times.
When playing each other, the best thing both defenses can do it to pressure the quarterback and try to force takeaways. Romo, has been shaky at best this season and has not made good decisions when he has been under pressure. Rookie QB for the Eagles Nick Foles has also yet to show that he can handle pressure, tossing just one touchdown compared to three interceptions and three fumbles.
Which Defensive End Will Have the Better Game?
With two quarterbacks that really are vulnerable targets, the spotlight of this match-up then comes down to the men rushing the quarterback. A wealth of Pro Bowl talent will be on the field when (PHI) Trent Cole and (DAL) Demarcus Ware compete for the sacks. Both defensive ends in fact, could be pivotal in the outcome of the game.
This will be the first game since before last season that Cole will be taking the field not opposite Babin. Instead, former first round pick for the Eagles, Brandon Graham will make the start.
As a rookie, Graham struggled and most recently, he is coming off an injury that forced him to miss most of last season. As a result, Cole will really have his hands full. Without Babin, the Cowboys and their offensive line can focus their attention on Cole. As a result, Graham could be primed to make his breakthrough performance. Or of course, Cole, who has managed just 1.5 sack this year as opposed to 11 last season, might finally have the game he is capable of.
Ware should be incredibly excited about what he will face Sunday night. Not only has the Pro Bowl defensive end managed to record his seventh consecutive season of double-digit sacks, but also he will be facing one of the worst and most makeshift offensive lines in the league.
Hampered by injuries most notably to OT Todd Herremans and OT Jason Peters, the Eagles have really suffered on the line this season. The line has been so bad in fact, that it was unable to protect Vick, which is part of the reason why he is currently out with a concussion.
Since Foles is mainly a pocket passer, if this O-Line continues to perform the way it has been all season, Ware should be primed for a monster game.
Eagles at Cowboys Betting Picks Verdict
The Cowboys are favored by over a touchdown and should win by more than that.
- Bet against the Eagles covering the spread. Take the Dallas Cowboys -10.5pts @ odds of -110 with BetOnline or Bovada.
- The over/under looks low at 43. Considering the way these two teams score and give up scores, I’d recommend you take the over 43 total points @ -110 with BetOnline. It is a fraction less generous at -115 with Bovada.
- NOTE to Non-Americans: Place these bets with Bet365.