THIS game is for first place. Period. That said, a win doesn’t automatically get us into the playoffs, and a loss doesn’t automatically keep us out.
Beyond this game, we have the Los Angeles Rams. The team that QB Carson Wentz was injured against. Next week is the hugest game of the regular season. It is our biggest test, both in terms of how far we’ve come since Week One, and if there is any psychological block for Carson to work past. However, before we get to that game, we have some mongrels to put down.
Last time we met this team, we were 4 – 4, they were 3 -5 and pundits were talking about how both teams needed to win that game, or the losing team’s season would be over. We lost. Yet our season is NOT over. In fact, this very game is for first place in the division. Just goes to show you what the pundits know.
Since that win over us, those same pundits are talking like the 7 – 5 Cowboys are invincible. Unbeatable! Destined to hold aloft the Lombardi when alllllll the smoke clears! Their defense IS after all, the same unit that held the Saints to 10 points, right? It is?
Well then allow me to retort! If we’re dragging history out, let’s mention that this is the same Dallas defense that the Eagles hung 20 on. And the same Dallas defense that Washington hung 23 on. Just two games ago! Make no mistake, that defense can be, and will be, scored upon. Trust and believe.
Oh yeah, and that 20 points we scored last time? That, was when we were one-dimensional and unbalanced. Now we have a run game, and our play-action that has to be respected. We also have RB Darren Sproles back.
That was also before our own Defense simplified things, and when the Secondary was bleeding non-stop. We’ve tightened up a few things since then. Hell, this unit gave Adrian Peterson a 90 yard run and STILL held his ass under 100 yards rushing for the game. And then there’s SS Malcolm Jenkins...
These are all facts that the pundits choose to ignore. That team is one game above .500, facing a team they barely escaped. No one is gonna say that though, because the Cowboys are big economy for the Niffle. But we ain’t layin’ down for nobody. Who want some, come get some!
So get your popcorn. Because this time around, it’s going to be a very, VERY different game.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Cowboys :
1) Control the clock: It’s hard to have many points scored on you, or to allow many yards, if the other team doesn’t have the ball. So grind out the game. The Cowboys don’t have the QB for scoring points in a hurry. Even if they did, they lack enough firepower to stress a defense, once their run game can’t be a factor.
2) Tackle: We were in position to make plays vs the run last time, and we just didn’t. Dallas doesn’t run a clever system. They don’t out-think anybody. They let opponents out-think themselves. Hit the run fits, and wrap up RB Ezekiel Elliott. That’s it.
3) Jeffrey, Jeffery, Jeffrey: Go deep to WR Alshon Jeffrey, not to WR Nelson Agholor. Not sure why the deep ball has vanished from this Offense, but Carson has to let his big man know that he still trusts him to win those 50/50 balls.
4) Sit on it: To complement the run, Dallas likes to throw short, quick passes. Jump some of those routes. At best it’s a a pick six. At worst, we’ve t least got QB Dak Prescott not trusting his eyes and therefore holding the ball a little longer.
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
(NOTE: The return of MLB Jordan “Cowboy Killer” Hicks has not been ruled out.)
Expect to start slow. It’s a road game, against a rested team, and they are still riding an emotional high. They will not fold quickly. Don’t get bummed over an early three and out. This game will be a war of attrition.
Dropfoot and Lederhosen Van Exxon (or whatever his name is) will look awfully funny trying to chase around Sproles in space. Good luck practically doubling over (at full speed) to make tackles on #43. As always, TE Zach Ertz will get his. RB Josh Adams seems brittle, so the Eagles may want to cede some work elsewhere so that another RB is in rhythm if Adams checks out early. So RB Corey Clement may see 8 or so carries this week.
We notched 4 sacks against this team the last time we saw them and there’s no reason that number should fall with DT Tim Jernigan “in the mix” (as HC Doug Pederson said). Our last meeting also saw CB Rasul Douglas hold WR Amari Cooper to 75 yards. No reason to think it can’t happen again.
This time around the emphasis will be on finishing plays, not just diagnosing them. We played poorly last time and were STILL in position to win it late in the game. This time the Cowboys won’t be so lucky.
(And yes, I know this clip is Reservoir Dogs.)
PREDICTION: EAGLES 22 – Cowboys 20