It’s Dallas Week
PHI: 8-4, 1st in NFC East
DAL: 4-8, 4th in NFC East
Spread: Eagles by 3.5
Where: Jerry Jones Big Pile of Money (Arlington, TX)
When: Sunday, 8:20 on NBC.
Last Week: The Eagles beat Houston on Thursday, 34-24. Dallas upset the struggling Colts in overtime, 38-35.
Three key matchups
Miles Austin vs. Asante Samuel – With Dez Bryant out for the rest of the season after breaking his ankle, Jon Kitna will have to rely on his number one, Miles Austin. That’s where Asante Samuel comes in. Samuel has missed the last two games with an injured knee but is expected to return against Dallas. He’s the Eagles best coverage player in the secondary and will provide a huge boost in keeping Dallas’ leading receiver in check. Austin has made 56 catches for 804 yards and five touchdowns. Samuel has a league-high seven interceptions.
DeMarcus Ware vs. Michael Vick – This match-up is simple. Ware leads Dallas
with 9.5 sacks and is the most dangerous pass-rusher in the NFL and Vick is the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL. Ware has 6.5 sacks in nine career games against the Eagles and has only half a sack against Vick in one game. Whether or not Ware can contain Vick will be the key to this game. Vick has rushed for 467 yards and six touchdowns but has also thrown for 15 touchdowns, making him a duel-threat and in the talks for MVP.
Keith Brooking and Bradie James vs. LeSean McCoy – Running the ball is going to be key for the Eagles. But that task will be the most difficult when LeSean McCoy has to do it against the strong inside line backers Keith Brooking and Bradie James. The two have combined for 177 tackles and two forced fumbles on the season. McCoy is on pace for his first career 1,000 rushing season. He’s run for 823 yards on 168 carries, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, with seven touchdowns. His ability to get involved in the passing game could also help Vick by spreading out James and Brooking along with Ware. He leads the Eagles with 67 catches and has added two scores as well.
IT’S STILL DALLAS — Despite the Cowboys’ extremely disappointing season – many experts picked them in the Super Bowl – it’s still Dallas. The Cowboys and Eagles have one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports. Dallas has won the last three meetings with the Eagles (all last season) and are 3-1 under Jason Garrett. But Philadelphia is the much better team with a more dynamic offense than Dallas.
The big question is going to be whether or not the Eagles defense can stop Dallas’ pass attack. The one-sided Cowboys are without their best receiver on the year, Dez Bryant. But with Miles Austin and Jason Witten still healthy and very dangerous options, they could give the Eagles defense some problems. Philadelphia has surrendered at least 24 points in eight of their 12 games this season.
But with the big numbers Dallas can put up against Philadelphia’s defense, the Eagles have dangerous weapons of their own. Jeremy Maclin is enjoying a great season for the Eagles, catching 56 balls for a team-high 820 yards and eight touchdowns. DeSean Jackson only has caught 38 balls but his 762 yards, 20.1 yards per catch, and five touchdowns are enough to make him a very dangerous option for Vick.
The ground game could also be a huge factor. Where Philadelphia is gaining yards in bunches thanks to the seasons McCoy and Vick are sharing, Dallas is struggling greatly in that aspect. Felix Jones and Marion Barber have combined for only 844 yards on 235 carries for three touchdowns. With the Eagles stingy run defense allowing only one 100-yard rusher all season, don’t expect Jones or Barber to be much of factor in this game on the ground.
Roose’s prediction (7-5): Dallas is tough but the Eagles are tougher. Kitna will get hit hard more than once and Vick will be able to work his magic against Dallas. Defense still has some problems but Eagles still win, 33-17.