Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Semi-Coherent Preview

Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) signals at the line of scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) signals at the line of scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

A preview of the matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys

After week three of the season, it seemed as if the week 17 contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys would be of utmost importance. Things didn’t work out that way. With the Eagles eliminated, and the Cowboys already having clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason, the game is essentially meaningless.

But it’s our last chance to watch the Eagles play a game until September, so we might as well enjoy it.

Dallas Cowboys

Record: 13-2 (First place in NFC East)

Last week: Defeated Detroit Lions 42-21

Head coach: Jason Garrett

The last time they met

More from Philadelphia Eagles

When these teams squared off in Dallas in October, the Eagles were in control for most of the game. The Eagles defense kept the Cowboys’ offense in check, while Carson Wentz and the offense were doing just enough to stay ahead.

Things fell apart in the fourth quarter. A fumble by Wendell Smallwood combined with questionable play calling gave the Cowboys life, and they took full advantage. They tied the game with a late touchdown, and in overtime, they received the kickoff and marched down the field for a game-winning score.

What’s the deal with the Cowboys

The Cowboys spent several years using high draft picks to build a strong offensive line, and it seems to have paid off. Much like DeMarco Murray did two years ago, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott is likely to win a rushing title. Dak Prescott has been put into a position to succeed, and he has taken advantage, leading the Cowboys to the fourth-best offense in the league.

On paper, the Cowboys don’t seem that imposing defensively. They rank a good, but not great 12th in yards allowed, but similar to the New York Giants, the Cowboys have been very good at not allowing those yards to translate into points. Much of their defensive stinginess is due to a high time of possession, which limits the opportunities opponents have to score.

Featured Cowboys player: Dak Prescott

Now that Peyton Manning is retired, the NFL is without a marquee quarterback rivalry. It’s clear that they would love for Carson Wentz vs. Dak Prescott to fill that void.

Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) meet with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) after the game at AT&T Stadium. Dallas Cowboys won 29-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

There has been much debate this season as to which rookie quarterback is better. Prescott’s numbers are undoubtedly superior, but only the most delusional Cowboys fan wouldn’t admit that he’s been placed in a much more favorable situation. He’s basically called upon to pick up short third downs and use his legs to make a few big plays each game. That’s not as tough as being forced to throw the ball fifty times a game to the likes of Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham.

Prescott may have the advantage for now, but it’s worth remembering that things can change quickly in the NFL. If you recall, Robert Griffin III was the offensive rookie of the year in 2012.

It’s also worth noting that no team has ever won a Super Bowl behind a rookie quarterback. So Cowboys fans might want to hold off on ordering those championship hats.

Reason to hate the Cowboys

It’s awesome that all of these “lifelong” Cowboys fans are re-emerging after last season when they crawled under their fridges.

Of course, even when the Cowboys aren’t winning, there are some of their fans who still won’t shut up about stuff that happened in the past…

South Park character who somehow relates to this week’s game

Member Berries

If there’s one thing Cowboys fans love doing, it’s talking about their team’s past glories.

“‘Memba when Emmitt Smith won the rushing title?”

“‘Memba Tom Landry?”

“‘Memba when the Cowboys won five Super Bowls? Yeah…I ‘memba Super Bowls!”

Super important Eagles storyline: Tryouts

This game is essentially meaningless for the Eagles. They’ve already clinched last place in the division. (By the way, remember when the Eagles won their finale last year? Thanks to that win, the Eagles got to play the Seahawks and Falcons instead of the Rams and Saints. Ultimately, that probably didn’t matter much, but it might have cost them a win.) Since they don’t have their own first round pick, a loss won’t even help their draft status much.

That said, there are still jobs up for grabs. This game is essentially like a preseason game, and players will want to make strong impressions on the coaching staff. With Ryan Mathews and Wendell Smallwood out, maybe Byron Marshall can show that he deserves more of a look next season. And maybe Nelson Agholor can build upon his touchdown pass from last week and give everyone some optimism that he can develop into a useful player.

Tweets of unimportance

That’s true. If Prescott didn’t face 3rd and short situations all the time, and didn’t have Dez Bryant to throw to, he’d probably be struggling.

‘Memba winnin’ five rings?

Oh, if there’s one thing Cowboys fans know, it’s the history of the franchise. Because they never shut up about it.

Catching up with the Chipper

Every so often, I check in on former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and see what he’s up to in San Francisco.

The scene: 49ers general manager Trent Baalke enters Chip Kelly’s office.

Baalke: I gotta hand it to you, coach. That was ballsy.

Chip: What’s that now?

Baalke: Going for two at the end of last week’s game. I don’t think most coaches would have the guts to do that.

Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 27, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly walks the sideline during the second half against Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Chip: Well most coaches probably don’t have it all figured out like I do.

Baalke: Oh? Do you have a special formula that determines the odds of success?

Chip: It comes down to a simple question: Do I want to tie the game or do I want to take the lead?

Baalke: Of course. But obviously you also have to factor in-

Chip: Nope. Don’t have to factor in anything. Just that one simple question.

Baalke: But what about –

Chip: There’s no “what about.” It all comes down to one question: Is it better to be tied or to be ahead? Now how would you answer that question?

Baalke: Obviously, I’d rather be ahead, but –

Chip: Ah ah ah…No buts! I’ll answer it for you: It’s better to be ahead. And it’s especially true on this team. Do you know why?

Baalke: I’m sure you’re about to tell me.

Chip: You have to ask yourself: Do I really want to put myself in a situation where I have to watch more of Colin Kaepernick? If I went for one there, we’d probably go into overtime, and you know what that means: More Kaepernick. I don’t want that. You don’t want that. Nobody with half a brain wants that.

So I went for two. Worst case scenario: We lose and are that much closer to Kap being out of our lives. Best case: We win. And that’s what happened!

Baalke: You’re actively trying to get fired, aren’t you?

Chip: Pretty much.

The Wentz watch

Barring an unforseen disaster, Carson Wentz will be the first Eagles quarterback to start all 16 games since Donovan McNabb in 2008. That alone is an accomplishment.

Philadelphia Eagles
Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) passes against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Wentz has had some ups-and-downs, but in hindsight, it’s probably good that he got so much playing time this season. Would his growth have been stunted if he was forced to watch Sam Bradford for most of the season as per the original plan?

It would be nice to see Wentz finish on a high note against the Cowboys. He can then spend the offseason refining his mechanics and come back next season ready to play like the franchise quarterback the team believes he will be.


The Cowboys are reportedly planning to play most of their starters. There are also reports that backup quarterback Mark Sanchez will get a lot of playing time. So it’s worth questioning just how much effort we’re truly going to see from the Cowboys.

I think Wentz and the Eagles want to end the season strong, so they’ll probably play hard and try to finish with a two-game winning streak. If Sanchez does indeed play most of the game, I think they’re likely to succeed.

Eagles 26 – Cowboys 21