It feels like an eternity since the Eagles pulled out the victory against the Houston Texans. The same things that plagued the Eagles in previous games, showed up in that one as well. Without Asante Samuel, they could not consistently stop the Texans nor get off the field on third down. Even scarier was that in the red zone, they couldn’t keep Houston from getting any points. It was, in the end, a victory and for that we have to be thankful. It helped the Eagles keep pace with the Giants who they are tied with at the top of the NFC East.
Now we move onto the first of the two meetings between the Eagles and the hated Cowboys. Let there be no mistake, I hate the Cowboys. For as long as I can remember, I have hated the Cowboys. Former Eagles receiver Mike Quick once said, “I didn’t hate Dallas until I came into the league and realized how pompous and arrogant the whole Dallas scene was.” I echo that and the evidence is the stadium that was just built in Dallas, and the assumption that the Cowboys would be playing there in the Super Bowl this year. So believe me, the agony that Jerry Jones and Dallas fans everywhere have felt this year has made this season that much more enjoyable.
They have been playing better of late since the firing of Wade Phillips. Jason Garrett is no longer the head coach in waiting. He is now has the job of bringing the ‘Boys back to respectability, at least through the end of this season. Jon Kitna has stepped in for Tony Romo and has played some good football. The running game still is MIA, but the defense is back to being opportunistic. I haven’t fully bought in to them yet, and it will be interesting to see what this game will tell us about the direction of both teams.
The Eagles have been explosive, but against the Giants and Bears, two defenses that are pretty athletic, the offense has been a bit more pedestrian. The Cowboys too have an athletic defense but I’m not sure that they can affect the Eagles in the same way. They are 23rd in the league in yards against, giving up over 360 ypg. The Eagles are the best in the league on offense at just over 400 ypg, so it should be like practice for Michael Vick and co. Dallas also hasn’t been very good this year getting pressure on the quarterback, and that seems to be the only way to slow down the Eagles at all. In fact, since Garrett took over they’ve only held one team to less than 400 yards of offense, and that was the Detroit Lions with a backup quarterback. What they have done is forced 11 turnovers in that 4 game span, so obviously, unless they can force some in this game, they’ll be hard pressed to stay close.
On defense, the Eagles are going to try and get after Kitna, and force him into mistakes. In the 7 games that Kitna has played, he’s thrown 8 picks and been sacked 14 times. The Eagles have caught the most opponent passes in the league with 20, and are tied for 8th in the league with 32 sacks. If the Dallas offensive line can’t keep Kitna upright and give him enough time to find Austin and Williams, you’ll definitely hear some boos from the Dallas faithful. The player over the years that has caused me the most pain is Jason Witten. No one on the Eagles has been able to make life hard on him since he came in to the league. With Dez Bryant out for the year, I expect Witten’s role with the offense to become even larger, provided the ankle injury he suffered last week isn’t to prohibitive. With no real running game to speak of, it’s going to all be on the passing game to put up points. The Eagles expect Samuel to be back in the mix on Sunday which is great news, as well as DE Juqua Parker, who should help free up Trent Cole on the other side.
December seems to be the Eagles’ favorite month of the year. They’ve won 11 of the last 12. Their lone loss was the last game of last season against Dallas. That cost them a division title, and forced them to go to Dallas to for the playoff game. They got handled and it started the chain of events that has Vick carrying the Eagles right now. If I was Andy Reid, that final score would be in huge writing on the white board when the Eagles enter the locker room. Plain and simple, this game will come down to turnovers. That’s the only way that the Cowboys can keep this game close. They don’t have enough of a consistent offense to score with the Eagles, and their defense is mostly a sieve. If Vick gets time to find Jackson and Maclin, he will have a field day. It should be a fun game for us Eagle fans. Eagles 38 Cowboys 23.