DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys head into their first of back to back road games this Sunday Night in Philadelphia. It is the first of many “must win” games over the next five weeks. The team is coming off an uninspiring loss which put the Cowboys in a precarious predicament facing the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Their long-time rivals come in at 4-4 and are coming off the bye week where they added Golden Tate, who has already burned this team once this season. The Cowboys can’t fall to 3-6 and 1-2 in the division if they want to postpone offseason vacation plans.
Dak Prescott had another game against the Titans in which he turned the ball over twice, including an interception in the redzone. In order for the Cowboys to have any shot at winning their first road game of the season, they can’t give away possession especially when they have an opportunity to take a choke hold on the game, much like Monday Night in Arlington.
In four career games against Philadelphia, Prescott averages 162 yards passing with 0.8 touchdowns and one interception. The Cowboys will need more from Prescott to steal a road game.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan must moonlight as a magician in his spare time. It is truly remarkable how Cole Beasley and Ezekiel Elliott vanish in his offense. Elliott needs to get his touches throughout the game to keep Prescott from being punished by a very aggressive defense led by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Last week Elliott had 96 total yards from scrimmage in the first half but only touched the ball six times in a second half wherein Dallas failed to score a single point.
The Cowboys' leading receiver this season didn’t catch a pass until the fourth quarter when the game was put away by the Titans. Beasley is part of why the offense had previously had success at home but really had zero impact on the game for Dallas.
Going into Philadelphia, it would be counterintuitive to not include Beasley, especially between the 20s. Beasley averages 10.2 yards per reception and has been at his best moving the chains and sustaining drives for this team. The offense keeping possession and sustaining drives is something the defense sorely needs.
The biggest concern heading into this weekend’s NFC East clash is the offensive line. They are playing nowhere near where many expected them to be. True the loss of Travis Frederick has had a much larger impact than anyone could have hypothesized, however they now lose Connor Williams who is out for the game due to a knee injury that required him to have it scoped.
The Eagles use a variety of stunts to help generate pressure and communication will be key. The Cowboys have struggled with communication and now with a new face on the offensive line, it has become even more essential to protect their third-year quarterback.
Stop me if you have heard this one before, the Dallas Cowboys will be without Sean Lee due to a hamstring injury. Unlike in year’s past, it isn’t a deathblow to this defense but still hurts them. Leighton Vander Esch has played well in his absence and now many are wondering what the long-term plan is for the man they call General Lee.
For the time being, LVE is plenty capable of playing in his absence but the Cowboys are going to need more from him and Jaylon Smith. Smith has really stepped up this season. The only thing lacking has been the production of turnovers. Dallas needs to repeat the success they had early on versus Tennessee to help a struggling offense.
This game will be an uphill battle. The Eagles are trending up with Carson Wentz looking like the MVP candidate from a season ago before tearing his ACL and they just added a Cowboys’ killer in wide receiver Tate. The defense will need to continue their top level play for the most part, third downs have been their kryptonite. It feels like the Eagles coming off the bye with some home cooking will be too much for the Cowboys. Prediction: Eagles run away with it 35-17.
Do you think the Cowboys can pull off an unlikely win in Philly or will it be more of the same on the road for Dallas? Share your predictions with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.