The Philadelphia Eagles made the city sweat a bit before earning their fifth straight win to start the season on Sunday against the Cardinals. It was by far their worst performance of the year, in my opinion, and they really didn’t look good at all in the second half. Nonetheless, the Eagles spent much of the fourth quarter running down the field to kick the field goal into the two-minute warning, then some crucial errors from Kyler Murray forced Arizona to kick the field goal on the field earlier than them. would have liked to try to send the game to overtime. However, the Cardinals didn’t do as good a job finding a relief kicker as the Eagles did, as Matt Amendola hooked his downfield attempt to help the Eagles earn a win and move to 5-0.
While far from pretty, I actually think this game further validates the Eagles as legitimate contenders. This team has shown time and time again that they can overcome bad starts and late-game scares while simultaneously treating rookie player injuries. The ability to overcome these adverse moments is, in my opinion, what separates the good teams from the not so good. The Eagles just find a way every week, and that represents to me a team that is going to be very tough in the playoffs.
That being said, the Eagles probably need to play better if they want to win on Sunday night, and that’s important to say the least, as the Cowboys 4-1 travel to Philadelphia for the right to be considered the favorites in the division. Many (including themselves) thought Dallas was toast after Dak Prescott broke his hand in a Week 1 game where the Cowboys offense looked pathetic. However, substitute quarterback Cooper Rush went 4-0 on his starts, and it’s abundantly clear the Eagles won’t be able to wrap up the split sooner. Rush certainly wasn’t spectacular, but he plays smart, solid, error-free football and the Dallas defense played at an extremely high level. Is a game manager carried enough by a solid defense to win a Super Bowl? Probably not, but it’s exactly what you need to buy some time while Prescott continues to make a full recovery.
Offensively, as previously noted, the Rush-led Cowboys have been far from dynamic, but he has yet to turn the ball over or put the defense in a tight spot. Ezekiel Elliott is a shell of himself in 2016, but Tony Pollard has become a legit explosive playmaker and is someone the Eagles hold to account. In the passing game, Michael Gallup is a very solid player returning from his torn ACL in January, and CeeDee Lamb is an extremely talented playmaker who lines up all over the court and can win at all three levels. The offensive line is a far cry from where it was five years ago, so Jonathan Gannon has to find a way to make Cooper Rush uncomfortable and not let the aforementioned talented players find free space. The defensive line must play well.
Defensively, the Cowboys are very strong, especially their pass-rush. Dallas is second in the NFL with 20 sacks, and for the first time in seemingly forever, they seem to be incredibly deep at pass-rusher, as they already have four players with multiple sacks. This group is of course led by 2021 first choice Micah Parsons, who quickly became one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Parsons is an outrageous athlete who had 13 sacks in his rookie year and already has 6 in just five games so far this year. He’s just too explosive for most attacking tackles to handle, and while he may be picking up an injury this week, he’ll still be an extremely difficult task for Jordan Mailata (who is also injured) or Jack Driscoll. If Mailata can’t play, they’ll have to help Driscoll with the obvious transmissions. The Cowboys also have Trevon Diggs in the secondary, who is one of the most polarizing players in the NFL as someone who generates a lot of turnovers while giving up many big plays due to his extreme and often reckless aggressiveness in the game. cover. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of his style of play, but Jalen Hurts still needs to exercise at least some caution when throwing in his direction because he’ll make you pay more than anyone else for putting the ball in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It won’t be the easy game I thought it would be four weeks ago, as the Cowboys have been resilient despite their dismal start to the season and their starting quarterback being injured. However, this Eagles roster is just more talented than Dallas, they have a better coaching staff, and to say that Lincoln Financial Field will be amped up for this game is probably a harsh understatement. If Cooper Rush can step into that environment and win a game of this magnitude on national TV, then he’s the real deal, but I’ll believe him when I see him.
Prediction: Eagles win 24-19, but don’t cover the spread.
Photo: Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports