The last week of the NFL regular season has always been a major question mark as to what teams will and will not play their starters. Despite the Cowboys not having much to play for, they should still play all of their healthy starters and try to win this game.
Head coach Mike McCarthy agrees with this approach.
After a total letdown performance against Arizona, this is the only way the Cowboys should approach this Week 18 game. The team needs to build momentum heading into the playoffs. They cannot sit their starters, especially on offense, when their offense played poorly last week.
Former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning mentioned on the Monday Night Football Manning Cast that in 2007 the Giants played their starters the final week of the regular season against the undefeated New England Patriots. The Giants already clinched their wild-card spot and they had nothing to play for, but that did not stop them from trying to take down the Patriots.
The Giants lost the game 38-35, but Manning was adamant that his team built up a ton of confidence that final week which helped propel the Giants to the Super Bowl title that year.
A struggling Cowboys offense needs to use the Week 18 game against the Eagles to get back in sync
So for a Cowboys team that is not playing well offensively, they can use this Week 18 game against Philadelphia to build confidence and find a way to win a tough road game. Not to mention, the Cowboys have struggled in outdoor games this season.
They are averaging 24.6 points per game in outdoor games and they have a record of 3-2. Plus, the Green Bay Packers are the No. 1 seed in the NFC. This means the Cowboys will most likely have to win an outdoor road game at some point to reach the Super Bowl.
It seems like the whole organization is taking the right approach to this week’s game. Ezekiel Elliott assured reporters her plans on playing this week and owner Jerry Jones said they “plan to play to win.”
Although I would not be opposed to a banged-up Elliott sitting this game out, if he feels healthy enough to play, then he should go do that. Also, I think part of Elliott wanting to play is that he is just 85 rushing yards away from 1,000 for the season.
The issue is, Elliott has not rushed for 85 yards in a game since Week 5 against the Giants. So the chances he actually makes it to 1,000 yards is slim. The running back has gotten exactly nine carries in both of the last two games, and that has a lot to do with the Cowboys’ inability to run the football of late.
Unfortunately for the team, star rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, left tackle Tyron Smith, and cornerback Anthony Brown were all added to the COVID-list this week making them unavailable for Saturday’s game. So without Parsons and Brown, the Cowboys can not afford to have any other defenders sit this game out.
Playing to win every game and building a culture of winning in Dallas is something the Cowboys are constantly working towards. A win in Philadelphia on Saturday will add to that mindset.