GAME PLAN: The Cowboys’ objective will be to get their best offensive player, running back Ezekiel Elliott, running in open field. To do that, Dallas has to give Philadelphia a reason to worry about other areas of the offense making plays. Otherwise, the Eagles will stack the box to stop Elliott. Quarterback Dak Prescott hasn’t proven he can make plays under pressure often enough to change defense’s focus. The Dallas QB has to improve for Elliott to be productive and turn around the Cowboys fortunes this season.
The Dallas defense struggled on third down in the loss to Tennessee on Monday night. Part of the problem might have been that linemen David Irving and Randy Gregory were both out with injuries and the Cowboys didn’t get enough pressure on Marcus Mariota on third down. Now Dallas goes from facing the 30th-ranked Titans offense at home to traveling to play a much more productive Eagles team (Philadelphia is 18th at 366.9 yards per game). If Wentz has time to get in rhythm like Mariota did, Philadelphia will be hard for Dallas to stop.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Eagles QB Carson Wentz vs. Cowboys secondary. Wentz led the Eagles to a 37-9 victory in Dallas last season. He only passed for 168 yards in the game, but his 11-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith and 17-yarder to Alshon Jeffery made a big impact as the Eagles took over the game in the second half. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota consistently burned the Cowboys’ defensive backs on the way to converting 11 of 14 third downs on Monday night. If Wentz can get in a similar rhythm, it will mean trouble for Dallas.
Cowboys offensive communication vs. Eagles fans. In trying to figure out why Dallas has been ineffective on offense on the road, coaches and players have mentioned communication being more difficult in another team’s stadium. Now Dallas goes to Philadelphia where Eagles fans create a notoriously hostile environment. Dallas will also be plugging in a new offensive lineman as rookie Connor Williams is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on his knee this week. So the Eagles crowd will definitely have a chance to impact the game if it makes communication an issue again for the Dallas offense.
PREDICTION: Eagles 20, Cowboys 13