Cowboys vs Eagles: Gut Projection
Projection: Dallas Cowboys 31, Philadelphia Eagles 23
This prediction is based on the assumption that Jalen Hurts does not suit up. And truth be told, if I am the Eagles, I don’t dress him either. He is the catalyst of your team, and a game that has minimal meaning is not the time to risk him. For as much of a clown show/obnoxious head coach as Nick Sirianni is, he actually seems likely to get this right and rest Hurts.
With that, the ‘Boys will be able to do just enough defensively in this one to make some noise. While they have given up some points the last two weeks, the turnovers are still coming, as they have forced four turnovers in their last two games. Eagles backup QB Gardner Minshew has a bit of a gun-slinger mentality, and that could give Dallas one or two interceptions to tilt this game in their favor.
I suspect both Dallas and Philly keep rather vanilla game plans in this one, as to not reveal their hands before the playoffs. That could make this game a little bit unspectacular, highlighted by some standard runs and play action passes. Those are areas I think Dallas is just a little bit better in with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Even though the Eagles average 13 more rushing yards per game, the loss of Hurts limits their run game.
Both defenses are identical, in that they allow just 19.2 points per game, which is tied for fifth in the NFL. Conversely, they are No. 2 and 3 in the NFL in scoring. The Cowboys are clicking on offense a bit more right now, as they are averaging a league-best 35.5 points per game over their last eight.
The Cowboys defense will find some ways to slow down the Eagles offense with a backup QB utilizing a vanilla game plan. Pair that with a couple of turnovers, and the red-hot Cowboys offense should be able to outpace the Eagles on Saturday.
The game doesn’t matter in the overall long run all that much, but beating a divisional rival on Christmas Eve as you look to get things right for the playoffs is what matters. The Cowboys and head coach Mike McCarthy know the importance of entering the playoffs playing good football, and they’ll try to start that this week.