Eagles-Cowboys SNF Pick

Posted: 11/08/2015 by levcohen in Football

Since I’ve lacked time recently to go in depth with my picks, I figured I would throw some of those lost words at the prime time games tonight and tomorrow night, especially since both of them are supposed to be pretty close. First, it’s the Eagles and the Cowboys in an important divisional matchup tonight that also happens to be one of the juiciest rivalries in the NFL.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-4, 3-4) at Dallas Cowboys (2-5, 2-5):
Spread: Eagles favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5

Think that Tony Romo might be just a little bit important to the Cowboys’ success? When Romo went down in week two, the Cowboys were on their way to advancing to 2-0 and opening up an already-commanding lead in the underwhelming NFC East. Since he’s gotten injured, five losses have ensued for the Cowboys, with both Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel underwhelming under center for America’s Team. By the way, why do we still call the Cowboys “America’s Team?” Not only are they no longer great at football, but the Cowboys are also full of very unlikable people. The worst of them, of course, is Greg Hardy, the defensive end who beat his girlfriend, shoved her onto a pile of guns, and ended up skating free with no punishment. This year, he’s yelled at a coach during a game, skipped practices… and still has the full support of the Cowboys organization. Why? Well, because he’s really good at football.

With Jason Peters out for the Eagles, the Hardy-Lane Johnson matchup looks really worrisome for the Eagles. Johnson’s making his first career start at left tackle, and Hardy is far from easy to handle. Given that quarterback Sam Bradford is atrocious when under any semblance of pressure, the fact that his left tackle is probably going to get beat often is far from ideal. The Cowboys’ defense is very beatable; they rank just 17th in DVOA. I think, if given time, Bradford will be able to exploit holes in the secondary. And if he can open up the defense, expect a big game from DeMarco Murray coming out of the BYE in his second game against his ex-team. So the Hardy-Johnson matchup might be the biggest X-factor in this game. Hardy can destroy a team’s entire game plan by himself, especially when he goes up against a left tackle making his first career start at the position. But Johnson isn’t chopped liver; a former top-five pick, he’s been pretty solid at right tackle in his first year-and-change. If he can shut Hardy down, expect the Eagles to be able to move the ball pretty easily.

On the other side of the ball, Dez Bryant should improve in his second game back… but even a full-strength Bryant wouldn’t be enough to make Matt Cassel look good. Cassel, who has a 58.5 passer rating and a 27.9 QBR in two starts, is inaccurate and turns the ball over too much. Against a ball-hawking Eagles secondary that ranks fourth in the NFL in picks, that’s going to be a problem. Bryant will get loose for a few decent gains, but I don’t expect him to gash the Eagles for big yardage like he has in the past. The running game also isn’t what it used to be. Joseph Randle, who was supposed to be Murray’s successor, was cut mostly because of off the field issues but also because he wasn’t really producing. And while Darren McFadden was once a pretty good running back, he’s no longer a dynamic runner and will have a lot of 2-3 yards per carry games. Against a good Birds’ run defense coming off of a BYE and returning to health (especially at inside linebacker), this could be one of those games.

Overall, I don’t think the Cowboys are going to be able to move the ball successfully. At the same time, I’m worried about Philly’s offense given their huge question marks on the offensive line. This could easily be a game in which each quarterback throws a pick-six or two in a very sloppy duel that is decided by a mistake and not a great play. It’s certainly a game that’s very important for both teams; the Eagles need a win to avoid being swept by the Cowboys, while Dallas realistically needs to win to have much of a shot at making a playoff run with Romo’s return in week 11. In a low-scoring slugfest, I think the Eagles’ defense will lead the team to a 19-13 victory over their rivals. With Hardy, Sean Lee, and Co. coming after Bradford, though, it’s not going to be easy.

Eagles cover
Under

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