Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 1:00pm
Written by Chuck D on December 27, 2016
Dallas Cowboys 13-2 (10-5 ATS) at Philadelphia Eagles 6-9 (7-8 ATS)
When and Where: Sunday, Jan. 1, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa. 1:00pm EST (FOX)
Spread: Philadelphia -2.5; Total: 43.5
Having already clinched the division title and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Dallas did not have a whole lot to play for on Monday night. That did not stop the Cowboys from overcoming a sluggish start and throttling the Lions 42-21. The Eagles and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz continued their learning curve of a season with a 24-19 home victory over the Giants. When the squads met earlier this season it was the Cowboys who pulled out the 29-23 win in Dallas.
With nothing to play for again in the final week we are left to wonder if we might see the first Tony Romo appearance of the season. Not so, according to Dallas owner Jerry Jones. The veteran quarterback was hurt in the preseason giving way to rookie quarterback Dak Presscott who has started every game and done nothing but impress along the way. The rookie’s only losses on the season came at the hands of the New York Giants and he has thrown for 23 touchdowns and 3,630 yards along the way. Not to be outdone, fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot has ran for 1,631 yards and 15 scores. And who can forget about Dez Bryant, who despite having missed much of the season due to injury, still has 50 catches for 796 yards and eight TD’s. This three-headed attack has man Dallas fans flashing back to the days of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin.
Against the Lions, the Cowboys spotted Detroit a seven-point lead on three different occasions in the first half before shutting them out the rest of game and scoring 28 unanswered points to close things out. As far as the three-headed monster on offense, Elliot rushed for 80 yards on just 12 carries plus two touchdowns. Dez Bryant caught two scores of his own with 70 yards on four receptions, and Prescott completed 15 of 20 passes for 212 yards and three TD’s.
Rookie Carson Wentz looked like he and his Eagles squad might be something special when the season began. The North Dakota State alum guided his team to three straight victories to open the season before crashing back to Earth. The team has won just three times sense then and last weekend’s five-point home win over the Giants snapped a five-game losing streak. Wentz has had an average rookie campaign, particularly when compared to Prescott’s. To this point, he has thrown for 3, 537 yards and 14 touchdowns, but also 14 interceptions.
In the win over the Giants he completed 13 of 24 passes for 152 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also was forced to leave the game briefly in the third quarter with a head injury. Chase Daniels played just one series in relief before Wentz returned. To this point, those are the only snaps he has missed this season. Ryan Matthews ran for 46 yards on 18 carries and Nelson Agholor had 47 yards off two receptions. On the day the team was outgained 470-286 but did a good job bending and not breaking on defense, holding the Giants to four field goals and intercepting Eli Manning three times.
Despite my headline earlier claiming the Eagles are eager for the upset, the reality is that they are a two-point favorite in this contest. That is likely due to the fact that many expect Dallas to rest a lot of players with everything already wrapped up. As we saw from Jerry Jones though, we can expect Prescott to go the whole way and even if Elliot plays in limited action, Darren McFadden has returned and looked decent against the Lions on Monday night. I still think the Cowboys get this done and got into the postseason chock full of momentum.
The two teams combined for 52 points in the first meeting this year and Dallas has shown that it can put up points in bunches. Philadelphia’s offense has improved throughout the season and Wentz now has 15 games under his belt heading into the last week of the regular season. The squads have combined to go over in eight of their last ten matchups and this one should be no different.
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Last Updated: December 30, 2016
Chuck Dowling is a 30-something University of Florida J-School alum that lives in his mother’s basement. Just kidding... there are no basements in Florida (the ground is too moist). He has been in the “biz” for his entire adult life and specializes in NCAA football and basketball, as well as soccer, boxing, and MMA. When not writing, Chuck moonlights as a high school athletics radio and internet-television broadcaster.