The Dallas Cowboys have been the class of the NFC East heading into Week 8, and a victory on “Sunday Night Football” would make them the clear favorite to win the division. They’ll host the Philadelphia Eagles as they look to expand their first-place lead.
Having won five games in a row after losing the season opener, the Cowboys are 4.5-point favorites over the visiting Eagles. While Dallas is coming off a bye, Philadelphia had maybe their biggest victory of the year last week.
The Eagles handed the Minnesota Vikings their first loss of the season, winning 21-10 at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia held what had been the NFC’s best team to their lowest-scoring output of the season. The Eagles are the only team to score more than 20 points against Minnesota, who has the second-best Super Bowl odds of any NFC team.
But Philadelphia could have a much more difficult time on the road, where they haven’t looked like the same team. The Eagles are 0-2 in their only two difficult road games — they beat the 1-5 Bears in Chicago — and Sunday’s visit will be their toughest test up to this point.
Even without Tony Romo, Dallas has proven to be a legitimate championship contender. Dak Prescott has been terrific in his first six NFL games, ranking in the top five in passer rating (103.9), touchdown-to-interception ratio (seven to one), completion percentage (68.7) and yards per attempt (8.17).
Prescott seems to get better with every game, and he should have another strong performance in Week 8. He’s been without the team’s No. 1 wide receiver for half the season, but Dez Bryant is expected to be back on the field against the Eagles.
Dallas is going up against one of the NFL’s best pass rushes, but the Cowboys should be able to neutralize the strength of Philadelphia’s defense. The Eagles are tied for third with 20 sacks, but they are taking on the best offensive line in football. Prescott has only been sacked nine times, fewer than 27 other quarterbacks, and the Cowboys should win the battle in the trenches.
Between their star rookies at both quarterback and running back, Dallas might easily push the final score past the over/under of 43.5. Ezekiel Elliott has been the league’s best running back, leading all rushers with 703 yards on the ground, even though the Cowboys have played one fewer game than most teams.
No matter the opponent, Elliott has been virtually unstoppable during the Cowboys’ winning streak. That includes 157 yards against Green Bay’s No.1 ranked run defense, as well as 140 yards against Chicago, who allows just 3.9 yards per carry.
Philadelphia’s biggest weakness in 2016 has been their inability to stop the run. The Eagles are 24th in the league, allowing 4.5 yards per carry. In their loss to the Washington Redskins two weeks ago, the Eagles let their division rivals run for 230 yards.
The Eagles are third in the NFL, allowing just 14.7 points per game, but they surrendered 24 points and 27 points, respectively, in consecutive road losses.
Carson Wentz has exceeded expectations as a rookie, but unlike Prescott, the quarterback has come back to earth in recent starts. He hasn’t even thrown for 180 yards in either of his last two games, and things don’t get much easier against Dallas.
Morris Claiborne leads an improved Cowboys secondary, and Dallas hasn’t surrendered more than 20 points in any of their three home games. Washington’s 23 points in Week 2 were a season-high for any Dallas opponent, and Philadelphia might be hard-pressed to match that total.
Prediction: Dallas over Philadelphia, 30-20