Eagles

Your In-Depth Eagles vs. Cowboys Week 17 Preview

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The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys may not have anything to play for come Sunday, but the Eagles can still make some history by setting a new single-season franchise record with a 14th win.

We’ll see how head coach Doug Pederson handles playing his starters.

 

EAGLES PASSING GAME VS. COWBOYS PASS DEFENSE
PHI- 99.5 PASSER RATING (5/32), 239 YPG (8/32)
DAL- 96.3 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (27/32), 218 YPG ALLOWED (13/32)

 

So how much is Nick Foles going to play?

He’s had two starts since Carson Wentz suffered his season-ending ACL tear and clearly could use more reps after Monday night’s Christmas Day struggles against the Oakland Raiders. After tossing three touchdowns against the New York Giants, Foles was 19-of-38 for 163 yards with a touchdown and interception in the Eagles’ ugly 19-10 victory Monday. Foles was pressured more on Monday, overthrew his receivers and was slow to get through his progressions. It wasn’t inspiring. And as the game went on, the play-calling became more and more conservative.

I think Foles should play a half with the starters. Pederson has said that he wants all of the starters to play.

Foles is preparing to play the full game.

Nothing’s changed, I’m preparing to play the Cowboys … I’m preparing to play the whole game.

Here’s what Pederson had to say about playing the starters.

The idea is just to keep the starters going. I don’t want to not play them and then it’s three weeks later that they’re playing a game. I think that’s foolish on my part. I want to make sure they stay into the moment.

Foles discussed what he saw on tape during Monday’s sloppy performance.

I think the big thing is, first and second down, it’s real important to get completions, stay inside the chains. I think we went to a lot of second-and-long, third-and-long. That puts you in you in tough positions.

Foles was 1-of-10 for 10 yards on third down on Monday, with the Eagles finishing 1 -of-14 as a team.

Nate Sudfeld is expected to make his NFL debut on Sunday. The 6-foot-6 and Indiana’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns Sudfeld, who was a sixth-round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2016, says he’ll be ready to go.

I’m ready at all times and looking forward to the opportunity if it does come.

 

EAGLES RUNNING GAME VS. COWBOYS RUN DEFENSE
PHI- 4.5 YPC (6/32), 136.3 YPG (2/32)
DAL- 4.1 YPC ALLOWED (18/32), 106.3 YPG ALLOWED (11/32)

 

Jay Ajayi carried the ball 14 times for 52 yards against Oakland and continues to get more and more involved in the offense. Philadelphia churned out 60 yards on 13 totes in the first half (4.6 yards per carry), but weren’t as successful over the final 30 minutes with 18 on eight rushes. That’s because Oakland began stacking the box and daring Foles to beat them, which he could not.

LeGarrette Blount said to Penn Live during the week that he wants to play and help the Eagles win 14 games in a regular season for the first time.

This is a game that we want. We have a chance here to do something that hasn’t been done, and that’s win 14 games. I know all the guys want to do it. I know all the guys want to be a part of something that special.

 

COWBOYS PASSING GAME VS. EAGLES PASS DEFENSE
PHI- 79.2 PASSER RATING ALLOWED (7/32), 231 YPG ALLOWED (20/32)
DAL- 86.4 PASSER RATING (16/32), 198 YPG (25/32)

 

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported Saturday that the Eagles will activate second-round rookie cornerback Sidney Jones and that he will play on Sunday. He has been practicing with the team since December 13.

Here’s what Pederson had to say about Jones on Friday.

We’re going to wait and see. We’re going to get through today. As you know, the physicality of banging, of hitting and stuff, is a little bit of a concern, but health-wise he’s doing well.
We’ll get through today and see.

Despite all of the offensive mishaps on Monday, I thought the defensive line stepped up. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz also used Brandon Graham as a defensive tackle in his third down rush packages more and brought the heat on Derek Carr consistently throughout the game. Chris Long and Vinny Curry were the unsung heroes.

It was encouraging to see going against Carr, who coming in got the ball out the second fastest among quarterbacks. This has been a recipe for success for opposing offenses going against the Birds, short, quick passes to offset the pressure. The Eagles might’ve registered just one sack on Carr, but consistently hurried him, disrupted his timing and the line was a big reason why Philly turned Oakland over five times in the second half. Patrick Robinson had this key interception due to the pressure from the line.

Double moves did bite the Eagles again. Jalen Mills was burnt on a slant-and-go by Amari Cooper for a 63-yard touchdown. It also didn’t help that Rodney McLeod bit on the play too.

 

COWBOYS RUNNING GAME VS. EAGLES RUN DEFENSE
PHI- 3.7 YPC ALLOWED (5/32), 75.9 YPG ALLOWED (1/32)
DAL- 4.6 YPC (3/32), 136.1 YPG (3/32)

 

Ezekiel Elliott returned from his six-game domestic violence suspension on Sunday and is “itching to play” against the Eagles on Sunday.

I only played nine games this season; I’m itching to play football. I don’t care if we’re playing for nothing, I’m playing for something. I’m playing for myself, we’re playing for each other, and so I’m excited to go out and play Sunday. I’m not going to have any problem waking up Sunday morning, getting ready to play. You don’t have to worry about that from me or from anyone on this team.

Elliott has rushed for 880 yards so far on the year and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

 

PREDICTION

Foles is preparing to start Sunday’s game for the Eagles and following his struggles on Christmas Day, he could use all of the reps he can get. In the season finale between two teams with nothing on the line, I’ll take the Birds at home.

Eagles 20-16

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