DALLAS vs. PHILADELPHIA
Kickoff: Noon, Lincoln Financial Field
TV: Noon, FOX
Radio: 9 a.m., 105.3 The Fan
Records: Dallas 3-3, Philadelphia 3-3
Series: Dallas leads, 61-47
Last meeting: Dallas, 38-33 (2012, in Dallas)
Betting line: Philadelphia -3
Weather: 67 degrees, 10% chance of rain
I called last week’s game a “must win” and the Cowboys were victorious thanks in large part to the “bend but don’t break” defense and Dwayne Harris on special teams. This week, the Cowboys go on the road to face another rival, the Eagles. The winner of this matchup will be atop the NFC East standings all alone. Dallas is 0-2 on the road while Philly is 0-2 at home so something has to give this Sunday. Let’s see how these two teams match up:
Dallas offense vs. Philadelphia defense
A week after putting up 48 points and 522 total yards against the Broncos, the Cowboys were only able to score three offensive touchdowns and accumulate 213 yards against one of the worse defenses in football (Washington). Whether it was the passing or running game, both were pedestrian. After DeMarco Murray went out with a foot sprain, Dallas tried to feed Joseph Randle the ball, but couldn’t find success (11 carries for 17 yards). The Eagles feature the 31st pass defense as they give up more than 314 yards each game. Their running defense is middle of the pack (16th), but should be good enough to stop Randle and Lance Dunbar. Once again, the Cowboys will rely on Tony Romo and Cole Beasley and Co. to put points on the board.
Dallas defense vs. Philadelphia offense
Will this defense be able to overcome the loss of DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff? Wait, you’re telling me that Ratliff hasn’t played all season? Oh, well in that case it will be up to Jason Hatcher and the Boys to slow down Chip Kelly’s prolific offense that is third in total yards per game behind Denver and Green Bay. LeSean McCoy leads the NFL in rushing with 630 yards while DeSean Jackson is second in receiving yards (589 yards). We know now second-string QB Nick Foles will be under center after Michael Vick announced he won’t be able to play, but Foles has been nearly perfect in Vick’s absence. Foles has thrown for six touchdowns without giving up an interception in his two games. Without Vick, the Eagles do lose a runner averaging over nine yards a carry and two rushing touchdowns to go along with five passing touchdowns.
Eagles QB vs. depleted Dallas defensive line: Hatcher had an incredible game against Washington last week as he accumulated two sacks, a tackle for a loss and another hit on RG3. He leads the team in sacks (5) while George Selvie is third on the team with three. Foles will want to be able to air out the football to his favorite target Riley Cooper (four catches for 120 yards in Week 6) along with DeSean Jackson.
Dwayne Harris captured the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award after his performance against Washington. Harris had a 90-yard kickoff return to go along with his 86-yard punt return for a touchdown. The Eagles have a solid return game as well with second-year receiver Damaris Johnson handling the duties instead of veteran DeSean Jackson.
The Cowboys are looking for their first road victory and for a chance to improve to 3-0 against their division. The Eagles have a two-game winning streak, but against teams with a combined record of 0-11. Both Foles and McCoy will present challenges for a struggling Cowboys defense that is now without Ware. This game looks to be a shootout.
Both cities feature fans that are not only passionate about football, but sports in general. Both the Metroplex and Philadelphia feature franchises in all four major sports, but which city has the best fans? I’m sure there are many factors that we can decide on to judge this (attendance, concession sales, etc.), but at the end of the day Philly fans booed Santa Claus back in ’68 and that is still unforgivable.
Prediction: Philadelphia 28, Dallas 27
Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook