A loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15 did a lot of damage to the Dallas Cowboys’ hopes of winning the NFC East. Now at 10-4, they need a lot of help to catch the 13-1 Philadelphia Eagles.
While that’s not likely to happen, they still would love to hand their division rivals a loss on Saturday.
Despite having only one defeat on the season, there are reasons to believe the Eagles will be handed another L at the hands of the Cowboys. At least three of ’em.
3 reasons the Dallas Cowboys will beat the Eagles in Week 16
3. This is Philly’s First Real Test
13-1 is an impressive record in the NFL no matter who you’ve faced, but if we’re being honest, the Eagles haven’t truly been tested. They beat Washington before Taylor Heinicke took over — and lost to them once he did. They also had a win over Detroit before they caught fire and the Packers, who haven’t been impressive at all, except for when they played the Cowboys.
The only teams they have beaten that seem like real contenders are Minnesota and Dallas. However, the Vikings were playing on Monday Night Football, and we all know how bad Kirk Cousins is when the sun goes down and the lights come on.
As for their win over Dallas, that happened to be the only loss Cooper Rush suffered as the starter this season, meaning the Eagles will be seeing Dallas at full strength for the first time this weekend. And even though they lost to the Jags, this offense has been playing well, which will only help the road team secure their 11th win on the year.
2. Quarterback Tables Have Turned
While Cooper Rush deserves a ton of credit for keeping the season afloat for Dallas, he’s simply not the same caliber quarterback as Dak Prescott. We saw this in Rush’s final start of the year, as the QB couldn’t deliver when the defense wasn’t dominating.
Asked to try and throw his team back into the game, Rush finished with 181 yards on 18-of-38 passing, with one touchdown and three picks.
On his 122nd pass attempt this season, Cowboys QB Cooper Rush throws an interception. Some others have come perilously close, but Eagles CB C.J. Gardner the first to secure a pick from Cooper.pic.twitter.com/JQrWHulnwr
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) October 17, 2022
Since Prescott’s return, the Cowboys have scored fewer than that only once, which was their 24-6 win in Week 7 against Detroit. So not only are they in better shape with No. 4 under center, but the Eagles are now the ones having to go with their backup in this NFC East showdown.
A shoulder injury will keep Jalen Hurts from playing, as Philly will turn to Gardner Minshew. Much like Rush, Minshew is a very capable backup, but he’s not as dangerous as Hurts. He also doesn’t bring the speed element that Hurts does, which was a major issue for Dallas in their last meeting.
While Hurts had just 155 yards passing and two touchdowns, it was the attention he drew in the run game that kept Micah Parsons from being unleashed. Minshew isn’t a statue, by any means, but he’s going to be in the pocket much more than Hurts, which is a benefit for Dallas.
1. Cowboys are Self-Motivated This Time
If a narrow win over the Houston Texans wasn’t enough to motivate Dallas, then perhaps a 17-point blown lead against the Jaguars will be.
That’s how the past two weeks have gone, as America’s Team needed a late defensive stand and 98-yard drive to escape with a win over Houston, 27-23. Then, in Week 15, a 27-10 second-half lead was gone in the blink of an eye, as they lost 40-34 in overtime to the Jags.
Dallas had several self-inflicted mistakes in that one, including a pick-six in overtime that sent them home with the loss. Heading into this weekend, they’re not feeling sorry for themselves, but are instead using it as motivation, as Prescott recently said.
“If anything, it’s about making the statement to ourselves,” Prescott said via Layten Praytor of DallasCowboys.com. “As you look at the season, we’ve had some games where we played really well. And we’ve had some games where we bit ourselves in the foot… So, this is about putting our best foot forward.”
All the Eagles need to do to clinch the division is win one more game, and with the Saints and the Giants following this weekend, that should happen. Even so, the Cowboys know a win this weekend would do a lot for their own confidence.
That self-motivation can be huge, and is one final reason to believe they should be able to improve to 11-4 on Christmas Eve.