Cowboys vs Eagles used to be must-see-TV. This Sunday it's going to be an ugly mess. Both teams have been major disappointments this season, but the Cowboys are primed to come away with the win in this one. Let's take a closer look at why the Eagles problems are only going to get worse.
Heading into the weekend, the look ahead line had the Eagles favored by -2. On Tuesday, the Eagles actually opened up at -1.5, but heavy money came pouring in on the Cowboys. The line currently sits at Dallas -1, but I don't think that's enough of an adjustment (odds from SBRforum).
Usually I leave this category to the end, but when it comes to these teams the most important factors could just be what is happening outside of the X's and O's.
For the Cowboys, it's hard to get behind such an incompetent coaching staff. The mishaps against the Ravens and Giants are well documented, but the play calling vs the Falcons was flat out incomprehensible. Atlanta ranked very low against the run heading into the Sunday Night Football game, but Dallas had almost a 2:1 ratio in favor of the pass. Jason Garret employed this approach despite the fact that they were never trailing until late in the 4th quarter.
For the Eagles, there are a lot of rumblings coming out of their camp that the firing of Juan Castillo was a mistake. I don't agree with that because I think he should have been gone in the offseason, but Todd Bowles sure hasn't made a difference as the interim coach. In fact, the defense has gotten worse. Granted, they had to face two high-flying offenses in the Falcons and Saints, but any fan can see this unit doesn't pass the "eye-ball" test right now.
I feel bad for Andy Reid because it's not entirely his fault and he's an excellent coach, but he's coaching on borrowed time right now. He's had a rough year losing his son in the middle of training camp and he's stuck with a team in disarray.
Finally, the Cowboys are a team that has played much better on the road this year than at home. The Eagles haven't played well anywhere, but hold a 0-3-1 ATS mark on home turf this season. The aura of the Philly fans certainly has faded this season.
X's and O's
There isn't a huge advantage in favor of the Cowboys, but they do hold the edge in some very important categories.
First, and most importantly, is in the trenches. For all the slack the Cowboys O-line got early in the season (and rightly so), they've done a much better job over the past month. On the flip side, the Eagles D-line have been one of the most disappointing units in all of football. During the preseason it looked as if they would put out an unstoppable rotation, but their starters can't even get to the QB this year.
The other side of the coin might be even more frightening for the Eagles. After losing Jason Peters and Jason Kelce to season ending injuries, Todd Herremans is now on the sidelines with some kind of ankle injury. These guys are not only the best O-linemen they had, but they all playecd at the most important positions on the line. The Cowboys D-line has been pretty solid all season and they should be able to feast on a badly depleted front.
On paper, the Eagles defense matches up pretty well against the Dallas offense, but I have to give the edge to the road team here for the simple reason that I don't trust the play-calling for Philly right now. Even without Demarco Murray, Dallas should be able to do enough to put some points on the board.
The pressure mounting on the Eagles is enormous. Their fans are going to be all over Andy Reid and Mike Vick this Sunday and the entire organization is on the cusp of imploding. This is a big divisional game and I won't be shocked if Philly pulls out the win, but they are far too dysfunctional to put any faith in.
The Cowboys are going to dominate this match-up in the trenches and that ultimately should be enough. Both QB's are highly prone to turnovers, but without any kind of protection the situation is worse for Vick. Take the road team and don't look back.
NFL Pick: DAL -1.