Week 7 Eagles Cowboys: Victory More Than Just Division Lead
Through six weeks, the NFC East has proven to be a division where no team can claim they have it figured out. To recap, the Washington Redskins sit at an atrocious 1-5 and have already moved to an interim head coach after firing Jay Gruden. You could also talk me into completely discounting their sole victory since it was against a Miami Dolphins team performing a historic tank job. There was real optimism in the Big Apple after new quarterback Daniel Jones flashed in a big way en route to back to back victories early in the season. But a combination of key injuries and a weak defense have translated into a subpar 2-4 record. The Dallas Cowboys shot out of a cannon to start the season, winning three straight on the back of Dak Prescott’s nine touchdowns. But those three opponents are now a combined 3-14. Major questions loom for the Cowboys after dropping their next three contests and falling back to .500.
And your Philadelphia Eagles? They’ve been…mediocre. They are technically tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East posting an identical 3-3 record. However, given the current competitive landscape outlined above, that’s not exactly something to brag about. The volatility of play displayed by the Eagles this year has made it difficult to gauge their overall ability. The Birds dominated the Jets on both sides of the ball in week 5, looking like a complete team in a 31-6 blowout. But the Jets were without Sam Darnold. When faced with a tougher matchup in the form of a visit to the Minnesota Vikings, the Eagles looked lost for most of the game. They ultimately lost the game 38-20.
How Important is this Game?
A week 7 visit to JerryWorld to play the Dallas Cowboys is is easily the most significant game for the Eagles so far this season. The winner will grasp sole possession of the division lead and boast the only winning record in the NFC East through nearly half the season. For the Eagles, a victory in this game is especially important as they enter a challenging stretch of their schedule. Their next four opponents, the Bills, Patriots, Bears, and Seahawks, all have winning records. It’s hard not to be worried that a loss in this matchup could accelerate a downward spiral as it relates to the Eagles’ playoff aspirations.
You better believe that head coach Doug Pederson and his players are aware of the weight this game carries. They will have to learn from several costly mistakes committed last week to achieve victory on Sunday. Their visitor status has resulted in Vegas labelling them as three point underdogs. This is a game the Eagles need badly and I expect Pederson’s play calling to be as aggressive as ever.
Game Deciding Matchup: Ezekial Elliott vs. Eagles Run D
Dallas Cowboys superstar running back Zeke Elliott held out the entire preseason amid negotiations of a restructured contract. Well, the man got paid and is still playing like one of the best at his position in 2019. While the Cowboys have featured a more prominent ariel attack through the mind of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, I still think Elliot holds the key to their success chances. He is a gifted three-down player who is elite at both catching the ball out of the backfield and grinding out tough yards inside.
The Eagles will attempt to counter Zeke Elliott’s rushing prowess with a stout front seven that ranks second in the entire league at run-stopping efficiency per Football Outsider’s DVOA statistic. If they can hold up against the run without bringing an extra man in the box, the Eagles will be able to minimize situations where the Eagles struggling defensive backs are matched up in isolation.
The biggest question for the Eagles is whether this is the week that wide receiver DeSean Jackson returns to action. The burner has been sidelined with an abdomen issue since week 2 and remains questionable to participate this week. Big name defensive starters Fletcher Cox and Ronald Darby both appeared on Wednesday’s practice injury report. There is no official word yet on their availability, but the status of their health will likely have an effect on the game’s outcome. Meanwhile, the status of Dallas’s primary pass-catcher, Amari Cooper, is trending in the wrong direction. The Birds will catch a major break if he sits as the man has already amassed 515 yards and five touchdowns through six weeks.