Intriguing Sunday night NFL matchup this week with two impressive rookie quarterbacks facing off in an NFC East showdown as Philadelphia looks to pull into a tie for first in the division as it visits leader Dallas. Neither the Eagles nor Cowboys expected to be starting a rookie under center this season, but things couldn’t have worked out much better for both teams. I can all but promise you there won’t be another 6-6 tie like we saw last Sunday night between Seattle and Arizona. The streaking Cowboys are now +600 on Sports Interaction NFL futures odds to win the NFC championship.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
Point spread: Cowboys -4.5
Date: Sunday, Oct. 30, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
The Eagles (4-2) absolutely planned on “redshirting” No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz this season as he came out of FCS school North Dakota State and only played one half in the entire preseason due to injury. But those plans all changed when projected starting quarterback Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota on the eve of the season. Wentz has been quite good, completing 118 of 185 passes (63.8 percent) for 1,324 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions for a 92.7 passer rating.
Philadelphia ended a two-game losing streak in Week 7 with a 21-10 home upset of previously unbeaten Minnesota (ironically enough). Wentz did struggle against one of the NFL’s best defenses in throwing for just 138 yards, a touchdown and two picks but became only the fourth rookie QB to beat a 5-0 or better team since the merger.
The Eagles defense and special teams dominated that Vikings game. Philly held Minnesota to 282 total yards, forced four turnovers and sacked Bradford a season-high six times. In addition, Josh Huff had a 98-yard kickoff return for a score. It was the second straight week an Eagle returned a kickoff for a score — Wendell Smallwood in Week 6 — and they are the only team in the NFL to return a kickoff for a TD all season.
Philly’s defense has allowed just 23 points in three home games but 65 in three road games, where the team is 1-2. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan missed the Minnesota game with a groin strain but could return this week. But nickel cornerback Ron Brooks will miss the season with a ruptured right quad tendon.
The Cowboys (5-1), who come off their bye week, picked No. 4 overall in this year’s draft and did like Wentz, working him out. But when the Eagles traded up to the No. 2 spot, there was never any question that they would take him. Dallas instead took running back Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4 and he’s leading the league in rushing and on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s NFL rookie record of 1,808 yards. Elliott enters this one having rushed for at least 130 yards in four straight games, the first rookie to ever do that.
While Elliott was always expected to be a big contributor from Day 1, that certainly wasn’t the case for fourth-round pick Dak Prescott. But when QB Tony Romo injured his back in the preseason, the job became Prescott’s and he has been brilliant. The former Mississippi State star has completed 125 of 182 passes (68.7 percent) for 1,486 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception for a 103.9 passer rating while also rushing for three scores . The Cowboys were originally targeting this game for Romo’s return, but Prescott’s emergence changed all that. Romo still hasn’t been cleared to return so the question is moot for now, but there’s no way he gets his job back unless Prescott really starts scuffling. Prescott will get back star receiver Dez Bryant this week. He has missed the past three games with a leg injury. In addition, the defense will welcome back top cornerback Orlando Scandrick. He missed the past four games.
Dallas has won five straight to take control of the NFC East and is the -120 favourite to win it.
Eagles vs. Cowboys Prediction
Philadelphia has won five of its seven visits to AT&T Stadium since its opening in 2009, including the past three. But this Cowboys team is a different animal, rested and pretty healthy. In addition, Wentz hasn’t been as sharp in his past two games, barely completing more than 50% of his throws. Take the Cowboys and go over the total. The over is 7-0 in Philly’s past seven on the road.