JEFF MCLANE Record, 3-3
JEFF MCLANE Record, 3-3
The Eagles have obvious momentum coming into Sunday night's big game against Dallas at the Linc. They stopped a four-game skid by beating the Washington Redskins, 20-13, two weeks ago and did so by eliminating some of the problems that plagued them during their losing streak. They won the turnover battle, 4-2, and on defense they finally shut down a running attack. It wasn't necessarily a clean effort but it was good enough and the Eagles moved to 2-4 heading into the bye. That three-letter word — bye — is music to the ears of Andy Reid. The Eagles coach is 12-0 the game following the week off, a record that is more than just some trend. His team is also still in desperation mode. A loss here would severely damage any chance at making the playoffs. All that being said, I don't like how this game plays out on paper. The Cowboys have a number of matchup advantages. Their blitz-heavy pass rush should give Michael Vick fits all night. Their top-ranked run defense will make it difficult for LeSean McCoy to get into an early groove. And if that happens, Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will almost certainly abandon their running back. On the other side of the ball, I'm not completely sold on DeMarco Murray. He had an amazing day a week ago against the Rams, but it was the Rams. Of more concern is Dallas' run blockers and, well, the Eagles run defense — which I don't think has turned the corner. It will be a close game, and a mistake here or there could flip the whole thing upside down, but Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey ends up getting the job done in a squeaker. Cowboys, 23-21
What goes right: Buoyed by the return of defensive end Trent Cole, the Eagles' front four rattles Dallas quarterback Tony Romo into a few costly mistakes.
What goes wrong: The young interior of the Eagles offensive line — minus left guard Evan Mathis — struggles against the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's complex nickel blitz packages.
Looking at my picks record, I might need this win as badly as Andy Reid. But it's no gimme. Reid's 12-0 record after the bye provides a fair bit of confidence and his team showed several positive signs in their win over the Redskins. But the Cowboys offer reason to worry. Dallas handed the San Francisco 49ers their only loss and took the Patriots and Lions to the wire. The Eagles running game will face the ‘Boys top-ranked rush defense, and Ryan’s varied defensive scheme could cause trouble for Vick, who has struggled against the blitz. Meanwhile, the Eagles improved against the run last week, but if they load up against Murray this week, Romo actually has the ability to take advantage. This is why the Birds have all that talent in the secondary, right? Turnovers have killed the Eagles, but they improved in that area against the Redskins and I’m guessing that continues this week. Between that and Reid’s results when he has time to prepare, the Eagles pull out a close one. EAGLES, 27-24.
What goes right: The Eagles hang on to the ball and minimize turnovers.
What goes wrong: With the Cowboys' tough run D, Reid lets his pass-first tendencies take over and we don’t see enough of McCoy.