With the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys still in the NFC East race, Sunday night’s game between the two rivals is a pivotal matchup. Dallas has already beaten Philadelphia once in 2015, but they haven’t won a game since and a loss in Week 9 could spell the end of their playoff hopes.
Dallas is coming off their fifth straight loss, having lost to Seattle 13-12 last week. Philadelphia is coming off a bye, but they were defeated 27-16 by Carolina in their last contest.
Even though they’ll be on the road and were already beaten by the Cowboys once this year, the Eagles are favored to win and improve their record to 4-4. Las Vegas sportsbooks set the betting line at 2.5 points, according to vegasinsider.com, and the over/under is 44.5 points.
The Cowboys and Eagles were expected to battle for the NFC East title, but both teams find themselves out of first place after slow starts. Even in a weak division, the loser on Sunday night will find themselves in a very tough position.
A loss for Dallas would make it extremely difficult for them to win the division. They’d have to win eight straight games to finish the season with 10 wins, and even if nine wins is all it takes to win the NFC East, it will be hard for the Cowboys to get there with games against the Panthers and Packers still on their schedule.
The Eagles would take sole possession of first place with a win and a loss for the Giants, but Philadelphia could be in trouble if they stumble in Dallas. Falling to 3-5 with upcoming games against the Cardinals and Patriots won’t bode well for the Eagles’ playoff hopes.
Eagles Poised For Revenge
The Cowboys beat the Eagles 20-10 in Week 2 in Philadelphia, winning as road underdogs and taking an early two-game lead over their rivals in the NFC East. But they are both different teams in Week 9, and the result could be much different.
Dallas was absolutely dominant defensively seven weeks ago, forcing Philadelphia’s running backs to lose two yards on 15 carries, and limiting Sam Bradford to 224 passing yards and two interceptions. But DeMarco Murray and Co. seem to have put it all together, averaging 152 yards on 5.1 yards per carry in their last four games. The Cowboys’ defense hasn’t played nearly as well since, despite holding the Seahawks to 13 points last week. From Weeks 3-7, every Dallas opponent scored at least 26 points.
Dez Bryant will start on Sunday after missing the team’s first game with the Eagles, but the absence of Tony Romo is far greater. The quarterback wasn’t great in Week 2, but he completed two-thirds of his passes and didn’t throw an interception. Sam Bradford has been disappointing this season, but he gives Philadelphia a significant advantage at quarterback on Sunday night.
Dallas Quarterback Situation
For as much criticism as Romo receives, the Cowboys began the season with one of the best quarterbacks in football. But a broken collarbone will probably cost the four-time Pro Bowl signal caller seven games this season, leaving Dallas with maybe the worst quarterback situation in football.
Brandon Weeden wasn’t the answer, losing all three starts and helping the Cowboys score just six points in his last start. But Matt Cassel has been even worse, completing 57.7 percent of his passes for 324 yards in two games, throwing one touchdown pass and three interceptions for a 58.5 passer rating. Cassel hasn’t thrown for more than 227 yards in his last seven starts, and he’ll be without another weapon against the Eagles because the Cowboys released running back Joseph Randle this week.
Cassel will have trouble with Philadelphia’s pass defense, which is one of the Eagles’ strengths. They rank sixth in both opponents’ passer rating and yards allowed per attempt. In their last three games, Philadelphia has held Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Cam Newton to 721 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.
With Romo sidelined, the Eagles are clearly better than the Cowboys. Cassel will have trouble moving the Dallas offense down the field, and Philadelphia’s improved running game should help them control the clock and the game.
Philadelphia over Dallas, 23-13