Dallas Cowboys (13-2 SU, 10-5 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (6-9 SU, 7-8 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday January 1st, 2017. 1:00PM (EST) 2016
Where: Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia, P.A.
by Jay, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DAL +6/PHI -6
Over/Under Total: 43
Last Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys proved why they have been the best team in the NFC this season. In a home game that seemed meaningless because the team had already clinched the division, clinched home field advantage, and a first round bye, the Cowboys responded with a 42-21 thrashing over the Detroit Lions in primetime. Dallas flexed their muscles by playing all of their starters the entire game while thwarting a Detroit team that had won 5 of their last 6 games and needed a win to clinch a playoff berth. Therefore the Cowboys have shown no signs of slowing down even with seemingly nothing left to achieve in the regular season and we will see if they can close out the year with another impressive performance against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
While it may seem Dallas has nothing to play for, a win on Sunday would give Dallas their best regular season record in franchise history. A feat that would be accomplished largely in part to the success of two rookies in quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Let that sink in for a second. Last Monday, the two rookies were magnificent and honestly the entire Cowboys offense looked unstoppable. Zeke carried the ball just 12 times but busted out a 55 yard touchdown run and scored another to end with 80 yards with 2 scores. Prescott completed 15 of 20 passing for 212 yards with 3 touchdowns and 0 picks. Meanwhile star WR Dez Bryant erupted for 4 catches for 70 yards with 2 touchdowns and also threw another touchdown pass to Jason Witten on a trick play.
To keep things simple, it was one of the Cowboys’ best performances of the year. The questions for this week’s finale against the Eagles is can Dallas end the year with that same type of enthusiasm on the road and will their starters continued to play all 60 minutes? Currently the Cowboys are listed as 6 point underdogs meaning odds makers believe the Dallas offense will be more tempered on the road as they look to avoid the contest injury free. However, the Cowboys showed no signs of wavering on Monday and the Dallas’ coaching staff has already stated this week is business as usual. Therefore, I am not necessarily expecting Dallas to roll over in this situation especially with the accolades that can be achieved such as the franchise regular season mark and Ezekiel Elliot continues to close the gap on Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record to name a few.
Now I understand the division games are tougher than most which opens the door a little wider to the Eagles winning this game. However, Dallas has been very good as an underdog this season going 4-0-1 ATS and winning those 4 games outright. Also, the Eagles have struggled significantly down the stretch. The Eagles 24-19 win over the Giants last week snapped a 5 game losing skid. It’s hard to diagnose what exactly has went wrong for the Eagles during the 2nd half of the season but they just have not been as sharp especially on offense. The Eagles have lost 7 of their last 9 games, they have not run the ball very well, and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has started looking more like a rookie with only 5 touchdown passes compared to 9 picks in his last 6 games.
The Eagles simply do not have the personnel to beat the Cowboys on the ground in this match-up so Wentz has to play better. Ryan Matthews has been ok at times. Darren Sproles has had a few big plays but ultimately the Eagles have struggled to run the ball. Considering the fact Dallas also ranks #1 against the run, Wentz has to deliver in this spot for the Eagles to win. My problem with the matchup is that the Eagles do not have a vertical threat to truly challenge the Cowboys secondary. WR Jordan Matthews has had a pretty good year but the majority of his catches come underneath. Tight end Zach Ertz is a potential weapon against the Cowboys who rank 30th against the pass to tight ends but Ertz’s usage is very inconsistent.
Therefore, I just do not like the way the Eagles matchup in this game. Even with Wentz going 32 of 43 passing in the last meeting, the Eagles still succumbed in a 29-23 loss. Meanwhile, I can see Dallas winning this game even if they pull the starts which they do not plan to do. Darren McFadden was good with his opportunities on Monday night and Dallas also has the best backup quarterback in the league now in Tony Romo. So I am not going to buy into the letdown position based on circumstances. Take the Cowboys as they hold the edge in nearly every angle in this contest.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Dallas +6
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