Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview (12/24/22): Betting Odds, Prediction, Depth Chart

All season Eagles and Cowboys fans thought they would be getting an early Christmas gift with an epic rivalry game on Christmas eve that would determine the NFC East divisional championship and quite possibly the #1 overall seed. Instead, fans are getting coal in their stockings as all the hype for this matchup evaporated like snow on warm asphalt.

The rivalry still matters, of course, but the outcome of the game means very little for either team. After the Cowboys (10-4) blew a 27-10 lead to the Jaguars and lost in overtime last week, the Eagles (13-1) all but locked up the division and the top seed. They need to win just one of their final three games to seal the deal. Barring a terrible late season collapse, the Cowboys are virtually guaranteed to end up with the number five seed in the NFC, as they hold a 1.5 game lead over the New York Giants.

When the Eagles defeated the Cowboys 26-17 at home in week six, Cooper Rush started at quarterback for the injured Dak Prescott. Now the Eagles look like they will be turning to a backup quarterback after Jalen Hurts sustained a sprained shoulder last week against the Bears. As of this writing, Hurts has not officially been ruled out, but all indications are that Gardner Minshew will get the start under center.

Let’s take a look at the odds, injuries and depth charts for this Eagles vs. Cowboys matchup and see my picks and predictions for the game.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Betting Odds

The Cowboys opened as 1.5-point favorites, but news of the Jalen Hurts injury on Monday had the line moving as high as Cowboys -6 before settling in at -4.5. Bettors are buying into Minshew Mania by backing the Eagles with roughly 70% of the handle (though it’s unclear how much of that money was wagered prior to the Hurts injury announcement).

The Cowboys have -200 odds on the moneyline while the Eagles are at +170, and the public money is split pretty evenly on this one, with a slight lean towards the Eagles. Those odds have moved from opening numbers of -115 and +100 for the Cowboys and Eagles, respectively.

The over/under for this matchup opened at 50.5 but has dropped to 47.5 after the Hurts news. Once again the public is showing confidence in Minshew’s ability to lead the Eagles offense against the tough Cowboys defense, as roughly 60% of the money is on the over.

The implied outcome of these odds is the Cowboys winning 26-21.5.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Prediction

Even with Hurts likely to miss this game, a 4.5-point Cowboys line seems like a lot for a team that has struggled against the Texans and Jaguars over the last two weeks. Gardner Minshew certainly is no Jalen Hurts, but if Micah Parsons was right when he attributed much of Hurts’ MVP-caliber season to the “system and team,” then Minshew should also be able to have success with the same system and team.

https://twitter.com/JClarkNBCS/status/1602860948812873728?s=20&t=t1LHsayqR4S5mKmMhlPiow

In a weird way, Hurts’ absence actually could be a reason to have confidence in the Eagles this week. Knowing they don’t need to win the game to secure the number one seed, it was likely the Eagles would have deployed a rather familiar game plan without revealing any new wrinkles. Since there is a high likelihood that these teams will meet in the playoffs, the Eagles would not want to show the Cowboys anything they might do against them in a playoff matchup.

However, with Minshew under center, the Eagles can run whatever style of offense they want without worrying about giving away a potential playoff game plan, since that will obviously change once Hurts returns. Of course the same could be said for the Cowboys, but they don’t have quite the same luxury as the Eagles to be looking ahead at the playoffs just yet.

Minshew also has some added motivation to play well in this game. First off, this game is an opportunity to showcase himself before hitting free agency this offseason, when he will be hoping to land an opportunity to compete for a starting job. Secondly, after delivering a eulogy this week for his college football coach, Mike Leach, Minshew will be playing with an emotional edge.

I normally would not attribute much value to off the field factors like Minshew’s added motivation or Parsons’ bulletin board material, but in a rivalry game like this one, those things tend to take on some added significance.

When you break down the matchup, everything outside of the Hurts injury favors the Eagles, and I believe Minshew can play well enough for the Eagles to pull off the win and definitely to cover. So I’m taking the points in this matchup, and I wouldn’t be betting the moneyline, but if I did the value would be on the Eagles. I also expect two of the best defenses in the league to slow down the respective offenses, so I am taking the under.

My Prediction: Eagles win 23-20, Eagles cover, under 46.5

Betting Trends

  • Eagles are 5-0 ATS vs. teams with a winning record
  • Cowboys are 5-0 ATS in their last five games following a loss
  • Over is 4-0 in Eagles’ last four games vs. teams with a winning record
  • Over is 4-0 in Cowboys’ last four games
  • The home team is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings between these teams
  • The over is 4-0 in their last four meetings

Key Injuries

Philadelphia Eagles Injuries: QB Jalen Hurts (Q – shoulder), S Reed Blankenship (Q – knee), S K’Von Wallace (Q – hip), TE Tyree Jackson (Q – knee), WR Zach Pascal (Q – concussion), S C.J. Gardner-Johnson (IR – lacerated kidney), P Arryn Siposs (IR – ankle), DE Robert Quinn (IR – knee), DT Marlon Tuipulotu (IR – knee), DE Derek Barnett (IR – knee)

Dallas Cowboys Injuries: LB Leighton Vander Esch (O – neck), LB Micah Parsons (Q – illness), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Q – foot), DE Dorance Armstrong Jr. (Q – knee), S Jayron Kearse (Q – shoulder), WR Noah Brown (Q – foot), TE Jake Ferguson (Q – concussion), DT Johnathan Hankins (IR – pectoral), OT Terence Steel (IR – knee), CB Anthony Brown (IR – Achilles), C Alec Lindstrom (IR – undisclosed), CB Jourdan Lewis (IR – foot)

Key Matchups

Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys below.

Eagles’ offensive line vs. Micah Parsons

In the first matchup between these teams, the Eagles were able to neutralize Parsons with a great game plan. Rather than trying to double-team him or run plays to the opposite side of the field, the Eagles repeatedly left him unblocked and ran options right at him. Parsons was forced to commit to one option or the other, and once Hurts read which option he was taking away, he executed the alternative. Have a look on this catch-and-run touchdown to AJ Brown:

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/1581813922621161472?s=20&t=4s97Mm9KceXJ4jKd1Jxdbw

Perhaps this was the underlying reason for Parsons’ aforementioned comments about the Eagles’ system.

Minshew won’t be able to run those plays as effectively as Hurts because Parsons won’t have to respect his legs as much, so it will be interesting to see how the Eagles will slow down Parsons this time around.

Part of the plan likely will be trusting all-pro right tackle Lane Johnson, who shut down Parsons in the last game before exiting with an injury. Johnson just set the NFL record for most consecutive snaps without allowing a sack.

This will be a fun matchup to watch.

Cowboys’ rushing attack vs. Eagles’ defensive front

The Cowboys are the seventh-most run-heavy offense in the league and the fifth-most effective in terms of DVOA. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard form a dynamic one-two punch that has combined for 1,743 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. They rushed for 125 yards (5.2 average) in the first game against the Eagles, 89 of which came in the second half.

The Eagles have improved their run defense recently, partially through personnel (adding Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh mid-season) and partially through scheme. They have shut down three of the most run-heavy offenses in the league over the last three weeks (Titans, Giants and Bears). They will surely be focused on doing the same thing again this week and forcing Dak Prescott to beat them through the air.

Eagles’ pass rush vs. Cowboys’ offensive line

By successfully stopping the run and forcing opposing offenses into obvious passing downs, the Eagles’ pass rush has exploded over the last three weeks with 19 sacks (at least six in each game). They lead the league with 55 sacks and are on the verge of becoming the first team in NFL history with four different players to reach double digit sacks (Haason Reddick has 12, Javon Hargrave 10, Josh Sweat 9.5, and Brandon Graham 8.5).

The Cowboys have allowed a sack on just 4.1% of dropbacks this season, fourth fewest in the league. However, they lost starting right tackle Terence Steele for the season two weeks ago, which contributed to allowing a season-high three sacks against Jacksonville last week. On the left side, rookie Tyler Smith has allowed the most sacks on the offensive line this season (6). The Eagles should have the advantage rushing the passer off the edges.

Eagles’ wide receivers vs. Cowboys’ secondary

The Cowboys have lost two of their top three cornerbacks to injury in recent weeks, which is bad news when they have to cover Eagles’ receivers A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith, who each went over 100 yards last week against Chicago. This is the biggest mismatch in the game and one the Eagles will look to exploit, even with Minshew under center.

Rather than focusing on the ground game with a backup quarterback, the Eagles may be even more aggressive through the air this week. Hurts is a huge part of the Eagles’ running attack, and since Minshew doesn’t pose the same threat on the ground, expect the Eagles to call fewer RPOs and just let Minshew drop back and attack the Cowboys’ depleted secondary.

Minshew will also benefit from the return of tight end Dallas Goedert, who had one of his best career games in the one game Minshew started last season, catching six passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Philadelphia Eagles Depth Chart

QB1: Jalen Hurts
QB2: Gardner Minshew
RB1: Miles Sanders
RB2: Kenneth Gainwell
LWR: A.J. Brown
SWR: Quez Watkins
RWR: DeVonta Smith
TE1: Dallas Goedert

Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart

QB: Dak Prescott
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott
RB2: Tony Pollard
LWR: CeeDee Lamb
RWR: Michael Gallup
SWR: Noah Brown
TE1: Dalton Schultz

Noah hails from Philadelphia and is a diehard Philly sports fan. He graduated from Penn where he was a sports writer and editor for the student newspaper and also spent a summer covering the Baltimore Orioles for MLB.com. He has been playing fantasy sports since before live stats were a thing, and he has enjoyed learning the nuances of DFS in recent years. As a current resident of Florida, he is hoping the wave of sports betting legalization will eventually reach his home state.

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