NFL Sunday Night Football: Eagles/Cowboys Preview

by Big Al Staff

First place in the NFC East will be at stake in the Sunday Night Football game on NBC despite it being a battle of two teams with losing records and a long list of injuries.

Dallas has lost two straight games as well as four of their last five games after they got beat at Washington on Sunday by a 25-3 score. The Cowboys’ offense managed only 142 yards against the Football Team’s defense. Since the season-ending ankle injury to quarterback Dak Prescott, Dallas has scored only 19 points in their 24 offensive drives. Andy Dalton has been declared out for this game after he was on the receiving end of a brutal hit from Washington’s Jon Bostic that knocked him out of the game.

The Cowboys signed Garrett Gilbert as an emergency backup along with Cooper Rush later in the week, but it will be rookie Ben Dinucci who will be their starting quarterback. Dinucci was a 7th round pick from James Madison, who led the Dukes to the FCS Championship Game against North Dakota State last year. He completed over 70% of his passes in his senior season for 3441 yards with 29 touchdown passes. He also rushed the ball 122 times for 569 yards last year with seven touchdowns, so offensive coordinator Kellen Moore might be able to draw up some plays to take advantage of those skills.

Owner Jerry Jones is answering questions regarding the job security of head coach Mike McCarthy. Yet the injury situation that McCarthy has had to manage in his first year has been overwhelming. The offensive line has lost four of their original starters with Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Joe Looney, and Brandon Knight either on Injured Reserve or already declared out the season. Guard Zach Martin upgraded to probable late in the week after suffering a concussion. Dallas has placed eight players on IR, which does not include starting tight end Blake Jarwin, who is also out the season with a knee injury.

The Cowboys’ defense may even be in worse shape under embattled defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Dallas is last in the NFL by allowing 34.7 points per game. The Cowboys have only forced three turnovers all season. Their inability to generate takeaways is why they are last with a net turnover margin of -13. Cornerback Chide Awuzie and linebacker Sean Lee are both on IR. Dallas depleted their depth earlier this week by trading away defensive lineman Everson Griffen.

The Cowboys are the first team to start the season by not covering the point spread in seven straight games since 2006. The last NFL team to pull off that feat was the Nick Saban-coached Miami Dolphins.

Philadelphia snapped a two-game losing streak on Thursday Night Football last week with their 22-21 victory at home against the New York Giants. That win put the Eagles into first place in the division with a 2-4-1 mark.

Injuries continue to mar Philadelphia’s season. They have placed ten players on Injured Reserve and began the week with another six players listed as questionable for this game.

The Eagles’ offensive line is without three original starters with Brandon Brooks out the season, Andre Dillard out indefinitely, and Isaac Seumalo on IR. The team resigned Jason Peters after Brooks suffered his Achilles injury in August, but he is now on IR with a toe injury. Starting left tackle Lane Johnson has been upgraded to probable with a knee injury after taking part in practice this week. Yet rookie guard Jack Driscoll was downgraded to out for this game with his ankle issue.

Philly added DeSean Jackson to their Injured Reserve after he injured his ankle in the Giants game. The Eagles are also without their tight end Zach Ertz for another few weeks. Tight end Dallas Goedert was removed from IR and is listed as questionable with his ankle. Running back Miles Sanders and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery have been downgraded to out with their injuries. Rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor has been upgraded to probable with the thumb injury that has kept him out this season.

To the victor of this game will go at least a share of first place with three victories on the season. BetOnline has Philadelphia as an 11-point favorite with the total set at 42.5. The game time is 8:20 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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