Hard to believe a month ago, but Sunday’s showdown at AT&T Stadium between the Eagles and Cowboys will decide first place in the NFC East and likely the division champion.
The Cowboys (7-5) have snapped back from 3-5 to win four straight and sit atop the division by one game. The Eagles, fresh off a Monday night win against Washington, have won consecutive games for the first time this season and have survived a rash of injuries on defense to climb back to .500.
These teams are very similar and both historically play well on the team’s turf, so it’s not surprising that Dallas won the series opener Nov. 11 in Philadelphia, 27-20. Here’s how NFL betting fans should approach the rematch:
This is one of the lowest numbers you’ll see for a first-place division battle, especially with both teams starting to find their offensive identities.
The Cowboys only scored 13 points in their win against the Saints last Thursday but turned the ball over twice.
Dallas’ offensive production is actually up over the last four games, with an average of 23 points per game compared to the 19.25 they averaged in their first eight games.
NFL oddsmakers are perhaps worried about the Dallas offensive line, which is a reasonable concern. Left tackle Tyron Smith expects to play but isn’t fully recovered from his neck problem. Left guard will either be rookie Conor Williams, who’s coming back from a knee clean-out, or Xavier Su’a-Filo, who just isn’t very good and is coping with an ankle injury.
A knee injury is also bugging right guard Zack Martin. Dak Prescott is the league’s most-sacked quarterback, with 45. He’s been sacked at least five times in a game three times this season.
But despite the injuries, and even with Prescott rating as one of the NFL’s most-sacked and worst red-zone passers, the Cowboys should be able to move the ball against an Eagles defense also dealing with injuries.
Eagles middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf) is iffy to play. Other linebackers Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill are each playing with casts on their broken hands. In the secondary, the Eagles are starting backups at both corner spots and at one safety position and haven’t tackled well there all year.
The Cowboys will have an advantage in the run game, with Ezekiel Elliott against a patchwork defense, and on the perimeter with Cooper and impressive rookie Michael Gallup matched up against corners Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones. Cooper ate Douglas’ lunch in the first encounter and Jones has dealt with injuries, poor tackling and struggles in his earlier adjustment to the slot. Jones is now playing outside but he’s had very few reps there in his two years with the team.
Like the Cowboys, the Eagles have found some rhythm offensively by finding an effective running game.
The emergence of undrafted rookie Josh Adams, who has 169 rushing yards in his past two games, and re-emergence of dual-threat running back Corey Clement (78 receiving yards, 72 rushing yards in the past two games) has helped Doug Pederson’s team find some offensive balance.
The Eagles have scored 25 or more points in each of their past two games, a number they had reached or eclipsed just once in the first 10 games. Bet the game to go over 43 with Karamba.
This is a safe number to take the over with given the overall improvement both teams have shown over the past few weeks on offense and given that it’s the second time they’re seeing each other this season.
In the first encounter, both teams combined for five touchdowns in an outdoor stadium at night during a month in which both teams were struggling to put points on the board.
Sunday’s game will be played indoors on a fast track between two teams that have plenty of offensive firepower and two quarterbacks playing well. This game has also featured plenty of scoring in the two years that Prescott and Carson Wentz have quarterbacked their respective teams.
In 2016, both teams combined for five touchdowns at AT&T Stadium in a 29-23 Dallas win. In last year’s game at Dallas, the Eagles accounted for five touchdowns by themselves in a 37-9 blowout win. Bet that more than 4.5 TDs are scored with 888Sport at -121.
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