Whenever the Eagles’ schedule is announced, fans always look forward to when the Cowboys are coming to town. But this week there has been a conspicuous lack of fervor as both teams limp into Sunday’s 4:25, nationally televised matchup, with disappointing 3-5 records.
The Eagles have lost four straight, including their last two home games and have scored an average of less than 17 points in those losses. The defense has been just as inept allowing an average of 25 points in that same span. New coordinator, Todd Bowles hasn’t been able to inspire his unit as the player’s fundamental skills have deteriorated every week. The offensive line has been decimated with injuries and now it’s best remaining member, Todd Herremans, is out for the rest of the season, with a foot injury. Not good news with Cowboys all-world pass rusher, DeMarcus Ware lining up against Demetress Bell and King Dunlap.
The Cowboys are 1-3 over their last four games and unlike the Eagles, they’ve all been close, one-score contests. They also have a turnover-prone quarterback in Tony Romo, who’s already thrown 13 INTs, which have directly contributed to why they’ve had to come back from huge deficits. The Cowboys do rank 5th in the league in total defense, although Ware accounts for 9 of their 16 sacks, but they allow only an average of 205.5 passing yards per game. Despite Romo’s turnovers, he passes for an average of 300 yards. They’ll play without running back DeMarco Murray and center Phil Costa.
In order for the Eagles to win, they must run the ball (how many times has that been obvious) to keep their soft defense off the field as much as possible. Whatever side Ware lines up, he must be doubled and the Marty Mornhinweg-Andy Reid combo must adjust to the double A-gap blitzes Michael Vick will surely encounter. Vick has to again, get rid of the ball early and keep it in DeSean Jackson’s and LeSean McCoy’s hands to generate big plays.
Defensively, this is going to be another tough task. The Cowboys have four big receivers Romo can throw to, in Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree and future hall of fame, TE Jason Witten. Without a consistent and effective pass rush from the Eagles, Romo will be able to pick their brittle defense apart. And running the ball shouldn’t be a problem, considering the Eagles still can’t stop anyone on the ground.
With all this in mind, Eagles fans have been quite apathetic about a normally chest-thumping week leading to Dallas invading Lincoln Financial Field. Going back in the history of this Eagles-created rivalry, one of these teams has been very good, while the other has struggled. The Cowboys in the ’70′s and ’90′s and the Eagles in the late ’80′s and most of this millennium. The fans either loved beating the ‘Boys when they were the best or when they were slop, it didn’t matter, as long as the Eagles beat Dallas, they looked at the season as somewhat of a success. Even though the majority now realize that’s not good enough anymore and it’s long overdue to win the big one.
But now that both teams have losing records and most likely will miss the playoffs, the hype and anticipation of the Eagles vs Cowboys game in Philly no longer exists, at least for this season. And to make matters worse, the Cowboys have played better than the Eagles recently and I see them leaving the Linc at 4-5 and to a chorus of boos.