It will be a showdown for NFC East supremacy when the Dallas Cowboys (4-1) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (5-0) on Sunday Night Football. The big storyline leading up to this epic matchup is the health of Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, who has a chance to return from a four-game absence due to an injury to the thumb on his throwing hand. Early indications are that Prescott will miss the game, but his status bears monitoring right up until Sunday. Backup Cooper Rush has held down the fort in leading the Cowboys to a 4-0 record in his absence.
The Eagles look to remain the last undefeated team in the league before heading into their bye week. Let’s take a look at the odds, injuries and depth charts for this Cowboys vs. Eagles matchup and see my picks and predictions for the game.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles Betting Odds
The Eagles opened as 5.5-point favorites at home against the Cowboys with -240 odds on the moneyline. It will be interesting to see how that line moves if news breaks that Prescott is going to play. Considering how the Cowboys have played with Cooper Rush and any lingering injury effects or rust that Prescott might be dealing with, I would think it should not move more than a point if Prescott plays, but it could move more than that if oddsmakers expect positive Prescott news to create action on the Cowboys.
Bettors looking to back the Cowboys should take the points while they can, while Eagles bettors might want to wait for the line to come down some. Despite that, early money is coming in on the Eagles with about 60% of the handle on just 40% of bets.
The over/under for this matchup opened at 43.5 and has dropped slightly to 42 or 42.5 depending on the book. The low total was expected given both teams have strong defenses and like to run the ball, and the downward movement also is not surprising. Early money is on the under with 56% of the handle on just 32% of bets.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles Prediction
The Cowboys are rightfully getting plenty of credit for going 4-0 with a backup QB, including wins over both participants in last year’s Super Bowl. Cooper Rush has protected the football and leaned on his running game and defense to win games, and the Cowboys’ defense is legitimately great. They are 3rd in points allowed, 7th in yards allowed, 2nd in sacks and 1st in pressure rate. Micah Parsons is the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year and is tied for 1st in the league with six sacks, tied for 2nd with seven tackles for loss, and is 3rd with 12 QB hits. Their defense keeps them in games, sets up the offense with great field position and gives them a chance to win any given week.
Even with Rush under center, would anybody really be shocked if the Cowboys went into a raucous atmosphere in Philadelphia and knocked off the league’s last remaining unbeaten team? Probably not. Still, the Eagles are 5-0 and nearly a touchdown favorite in this game for a reason. They are 2nd in the league in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and the only team in the top five in both offensive and defensive DVOA. They are a balanced team that has already shown they can win in a variety of ways.
The Eagles might not have a Micah Parsons on defense, but as a unit they have performed better than the Cowboys, and they currently lead the league in turnover rate, forcing a takeaway on nearly 21% of defensive possessions. Both defenses should fare well in this game, but the Eagles have a much more potent offensive attack right now than the Cowboys and will be the toughest test that the Dallas defense has faced yet this season.
The biggest factor in this game to me is the health of the Eagles’ offensive line, which is the best in the league when healthy. But left tackle Jordan Mailata missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury, and both left guard Landon Dickerson and all-pro center Jason Kelce left that game with injuries before returning later in the game. Four of the Eagles’ five starters along the o-line are on the injury report right now. Currently it looks like all five should be good to go, but the situation bears monitoring. If that unit is healthy, it should be able to slow down the Cowboys’ pass rush enough for Jalen Hurts to have another stellar game. The Cowboys also have not faced a mobile QB like Hurts yet this season, which will also help to neutralize the most dangerous aspect of this Cowboys team, even if the offensive line isn’t at full strength.
Because the Eagles’ offense is so much more dangerous than the Cowboys’ right now, and because they seem to have the right formula to attack the Cowboys’ defense, I like the Birds to take care of business at home this week and remain undefeated. However, the offensive line injuries are a serious concern, and I expect the Dallas defense to keep the game close, so I would not feel confident enough to lay the 5.5 points. While I’m picking the Eagles to win, I don’t like the odds enough to put any action on the moneyline, so I would be placing my bets on the under and on the Cowboys with the points.
My Prediction: Eagles win 21-17, Cowboys cover, under 42 points.
- The Cowboys are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 road games, and 6-0 in their last six games in October
- The under is 10-1-1 in the Cowboys’ last 12 games following an ATS win, and 10-1-1 in their last 12 games following a straight-up win
- The under is 13-3-1 in the Cowboys’ last 17 games overall
- The over is 6-1 in the Eagles’ last seven home games, and 5-1 in their last six home games against teams with a winning record
- The favorite is 10-3 ATS in the last 13 meetings between these teams, and the home team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings
Dallas Cowboys Injuries: QB Dak Prescott (Q – thumb), OLB Micah Parsons (groin), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Q – chest), LT Jason Peters (Q – chest), TE Dalton Schultz (Q – knee), DT Quinton Bohanna (Q – shoulder), LB Damone Clark (IR – neck).
Here is the Cowboys’ injury report from Wednesday’s practice:
#Cowboys first injury report vs. Eagles (W6) is here.
🔑 Jason Peters was indeed a participant (limited) and Rico Dowdle was an unexpected DNP.
🔑Quinton Bohanna was a FULL participant.
🔑 Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence are being treated cautiously this week but will play. pic.twitter.com/NHfy8K7kpb
— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) October 12, 2022
According to head coach Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys are preparing to be without Prescott again and to start Cooper Rush:
Mike McCarthy: “We are preparing for Cooper (Rush) to start against the Eagles.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 12, 2022
Philadelphia Eagles Injuries: LT Jordan Mailata (Q – shoulder), LG Landon Dickerson (Q – ankle), C Jason Kelce (Q – ankle), RG Isaac Seumalo (Q – ankle), CB Avonte Maddox (Q – ankle), RB Boston Scott (Q – rib), K Jake Elliott (Q – ankle), LB Patrick Johnson (Q – concussion), OT Andre Dillard (IR – forearm), DE Derek Barnett (IR – knee).
Here is the Eagles’ estimated injury report from Wednesday’s walkthrough practice:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 12, 2022
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles below.
Eagles’ offensive line vs. Cowboys’ pass rush
This is the premier matchup of this contest, as it is the greatest strength of both teams. As mentioned above, the Eagles’ offensive line is the best in the league when fully healthy. The depth is also strong and can withstand injuries to the starters up to a point. Backup left tackle Jack Driscoll has filled in admirably for Jordan Mailata for the last two games after Mailata injured his shoulder in week four against Jacksonville. But Driscoll has not had to face the likes of Micah Parsons or even DeMarcus Lawrence. Parsons dominated last week against the Rams with six pressures, two sacks and a 27.6% pass rush win rate en route to NFC defensive player of the week honors.
— NFL (@NFL) October 9, 2022
Right tackle Lane Johnson has not allowed a sack since 2020, so it’s possible the Cowboys won’t even bother testing him, and will just attack the left side of the line, whether it’s Driscoll or Mailata lining up there.
The Eagles’ defensive line vs. the Cowboys’ offensive line
If the last matchup was the most competitive one in this game, this one might be the biggest mismatch. The Cowboys’ offensive line is no longer the juggernaut it has been over the last few seasons, and the loss of left tackle Tyron Smith was a massive blow to this unit. Rookie Tyler Smith has shown promise after being moved from left guard to left tackle, but he is still a rookie and has committed five penalties (which was also a problem for him in college) and has given up three sacks this season. Veteran offensive lineman and longtime Eagle Jason Peters was playing well at left guard before missing last week’s game with a chest/rib injury, but he appears likely to return against his former team. Peters is in for an interesting homecoming after sharing some choice words about Eagles fans:
Jason Peters on Cowboys/Eagles rivalry, dislike between fanbases: “I just know Philly fans are f**kin idiots when it comes to the camaraderie and the Cowboys, any team, really. … They know that. They pride themselves on being nasty. Philly fans are the wildest fans out there.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 12, 2022
Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat, who has 2.5 sacks, six tackles for loss and eight QB hits through five games, should be able to generate pressure off the left side. Haason Reddick, who has 4.5 sacks in the last three games, stands a good chance to register a sack for the fourth consecutive week in his matchup against Cowboys’ right tackle Terence Steele.
Eagles’ rushing attack vs. Cowboys’ defensive front
One area where the Eagles’ offensive line could create an advantage is the run game. The Cowboys are just average against the run (19th in the league, 4.7 yards per carry average), while the Eagles have the 4th-best rushing offense and one of the most dangerous running quarterbacks in the league. Daniel Jones is the only QB the Cowboys have faced who poses any type of running threat, and he rushed for 79 yards against them. If the Cowboys’ pass rush can’t get to Hurts, we could see him break off a few big runs.
This could also mean another big game for Miles Sanders, who is fourth in the league in rushing right now with 414 yards on 4.8 yards per carry. Along with Hurts’ mobility, the Eagles’ ground game could help to neutralize the Cowboys’ pass rush and help them avoid committing a game-changing turnover.
Eagles’ WR A.J. Brown vs. Cowboys’ CB Trevon Diggs
After a hot start to the season, A.J. Brown has cooled off some and had his quietest game of the season last week with just three catches on seven targets for 32 yards. Against the blitz-heavy Cardinals, the Eagles’ game plan featured a more horizontal passing attack with lots of bubble screens to DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. I expect the Eagles to try to get Brown involved early in this game, just like they did with Smith in week two after he had zero catches on just three targets in week one.
That sets up an interesting matchup with the ball-hawking Diggs, who was a propensity for making big plays (11 interceptions last year, including a pick-six against the Eagles, and two picks so far this year). However, Diggs takes a lot of chances to make those plays and is vulnerable to giving up big plays as well. In a game where the Eagles could look to grind it out and protect the ball, they may choose to avoid throwing at Diggs all together and instead attack Anthony Brown on the other side or slot corner Jourdan Lewis. A.J. Brown can move all over the formation and we could see him used in some new and creative ways to get him involved in the offense. Or we could see him go to battle with one of the top corners in the league. Either way, it will be a matchup worth watching.