I’m not happy to report that I predicted the Vikings to win by seven last week. From a professional standpoint, there’s a feeling of vindication for my efforts, but I’m telling you this so you understand I’m not an Eagles fan and because of that, you’re not getting some “pat yourself on the back, feel optimistic” words from me.
You’re getting hard truths. Last week may have been a wakeup call for some of you, but most of you probably smelled something was up when they lost to the Lions in Week 3.
This week has the Cowboys as a -3 favorite and 49.5 as the over/under. Think you know where the game is headed? Be sure to check out the PlaySugarHouse PA sportsbook.
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The 2019 season so far
2019 has been a roller coaster of a season I fully expected to this point. We discussed the issues with the secondary in my Steelers preview article leading into the season. I mentioned this Eagles team would be strong in three areas: offensive line, defensive line/pass rush, and the receiving corps. The receiving corps has been banged up all season, so there have been mixed results, but mostly just an overall lack of support from receivers to tight ends. There have been an array of dropped passes amongst the receivers and tight ends that have proved more costly (Lions game and Falcons game in particular) than most inconsequential drops over the course of typical games.
The offensive line has been good but not near the top, as predicted by Pro Football Focus (PFF). Football Outsiders has the Eagles ranked 9th in pass protection (based on Adjusted Sack Rate) and just 16th in rushing (based on adjusted rushing yards per carry). Jordan Howard has been serviceable when given a little space at the line, while Miles Sanders has been more of a threat receiving the ball out of the backfield. Neither has made much of anything significant on the ground in terms of yardage, but it has been a reasonable attack at times this season thus far.
The defensive line has been stellar against the run this season, currently sitting in the top three, but the pass rush has been very mediocre (21st in sack percentage). Though they’re ranked 6th in sack percentage over the past three weeks, it’s been skewed by the absurd sack total against the Jets in Week 5. In Week 6, the Eagles failed against the Vikings because they couldn’t get pressure on Kirk Cousins and his receivers were then able to shred the weak Eagles secondary.
Overall, the team has been about what we should’ve expected. The Eagles knew their secondary was going to be a work in progress, but instead of really committing to taking a chance on a few solid prospects in the draft, the Eagles just decided to throw bodies at the problem and try to set up a patchwork secondary comprised of underachieving veterans through free agency. It’s been hideous thus far, and the defensive success is completely predicated on whether the Eagles can get to opposing quarterbacks. They do a great job stopping the run, but the secondary is the primary weakness, and they aren’t just a weakness, they are an absolute disaster.
Eagles travel to Dallas in Week 7 as three-point underdogs
The Cowboys are in complete turmoil right now with their quarterback struggling mightily under pressure. One interesting tidbit is Dak Prescott’s 3.8% sack rate is the second-lowest in the NFL and his bad pass percentage is only 11%, which is among the lowest in the NFL. Much like the Jets did a week ago, the Eagles are going to have to clamp down on the run but also pressure Dak enough to fluster him into hurrying his throws.
Offensively, there’s not a lot the Eagles will have to try before something works. The Cowboys defense has been a leaky boat the past few weeks, so this game has all the ingredients for a decent shootout. Even though I don’t expect the Cowboys will be able to effectively run the offense through the ground game, they have such a favorable matchup with the Eagles defense, that they won’t really even need to run the ball very much.
The spread for the game is Cowboys -3 and the total points line is 49.5, according to PlaySugarHouse PA online sportsbook. I believe the most critical factor in this game is Amari Cooper. If Cooper plays, I think the Cowboys will win, and cover, because he’s that critical to this team’s success. The rest of their receiving corps has been inconsistent or banged up, and Michael Gallup isn’t the dependable guy the Cowboys really need him to be at this time. If Cooper is out, the Cowboys will not be able to keep pace in this shootout.