Philadelphia Eagles (1-1, 1-1 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1, 2-0), 8:15 p.m., MNF
Implied Team Totals: Eagles 24, Cowboys 28
Spread/Total Movements: 51.5 to 52
Eagles Injuries to Watch: LT Jordan Mailata (knee), RB Miles Sanders (chest), TE Zach Ertz (COVID), DE Brandon Graham (Achilles, IR), RG Brandon Brooks (chest, IR)
Cowboys Injuries to Watch: WR Amari Cooper (ribs), LB Keanu Neal (COVID), DE Bradlee Anae (COVID)
Brolley’s Eagles Stats and Trends
The Eagles are 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games.
Philly is 9-3 toward unders in its last 12 games.
Jalen Hurts completed just 10/23 passes for 190 yards, but he still came through for fantasy with 82/1 rushing. His aDOT climbed from 3.6 yards in the season opener to 15.7 yards last week.Hurts has run for 60+ yards in each of his five full games, including 9/69 rushing in his lone start against the Cowboys last season. He added 342/1 passing in that contest.
DeVonta Smith flopped with just 2/16 receiving on seven targets with his aDOT climbing from 8.6 yards in Week 1 to 23.6 yards last week. He’s still seen a generous 26% target share through two weeks. We’ll see if CB Trevon Diggs follows him in this one but the Cowboys have still allowed the second-most yards (241.5) to WRs in the early going.
Jalen Reagor saw the second-most targets with five (21%) against the 49ers in Week 2, and he played a solid 71% of the snaps, but he managed just 2/5 receiving on his looks. He did just miss a 36-yard TD when he stepped out of bounds before the catch. Quez Watkins provided nearly half of the passing yardage last week with a 91-yard catch. The Cowboys are giving up the fifth-most FPG (49.4) to WRs so far.
Zach Ertz ran more routes (17 to 14) than Dallas Goedert last week, but Goedert held the advantage with 2/24 receiving on two targets compared to Ertz’s 1/6 on two targets. Ertz is on the COVID list this week, which puts his status for MNF in doubt, and Goedert could use the help for some fantasy relevance as he has just 6/66/1 receiving on seven targets through two weeks. He posted 3/38 receiving in his lone matchup against the Cowboys with Hurts in the lineup. The Cowboys gave up two touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski in the season opener and they lucked out by having two tight end TDs wiped out last week against the Chargers.
Miles Sanders turned 14 touches into 59 scrimmage yards last week on 67% of the snaps in their loss to the 49ers. Kenneth Gainwell played 33% of the snaps and finished with 6/14 rushing and 2/18 receiving on three targets. The Eagles stuck with a two-thirds Sanders, one-third Gainwell split from the season opener with Boston Scott glued to the bench. Sanders totaled 19/84/1 scrimmage against the Cowboys last season with Hurts in the lineup. Dallas has faced a league-low 13.5 RB carries per game so far but they’ve allowed 4.4 YPC.
Brolley’s Cowboys Stats and Trends
These teams split their season series last season, including Dallas’ 37-17 victory in Week 16 as three-point home underdogs against the Jalen Hurts and company.
Dallas is off to a 2-0 ATS start after going a league-worst 5-11 ATS last season. They’re 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
The Cowboys are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite.
The Cowboys limited the Chargers to just two field goals in the second half, and their 17 points allowed in Week 2 matched the fewest points they allowed in a game in all of last season.
As a standalone statline, Ezekiel Elliott’s performance was exactly what his owners wanted to see with 16/71/1 rushing and 2/26 receiving on 71% of the snaps against the Chargers in Week 2. However, his statline doesn’t look nearly as good when you know that his backup Tony Pollard posted 13/109/1 rushing and 3/31 receiving on 34% of the snaps. Zeke has seen just four targets on 68 routes so far while Pollard has seven targets on 20 routes. Zeke posted 38/168/0 rushing and 5/34 receiving in two matchups against the Eagles last season. The Eagles are giving up 4.2 YPC and 8.0 catches per game to RBs so far.
Dak Prescott mustered just 8.5 FP last week with 237 yards and no touchdowns with the Cowboys going with a run-heavy approach against the Chargers. Dak did average 8.8 YPA last week, but he’s run for just 13 yards through two games following his catastrophic leg injury from last season. The Eagles have allowed just one passing TD and yet to give up 190+ passing yards to either Matt Ryan or Jimmy Garoppolo.
CeeDee Lamb is sitting on a healthy 30% target share through two weeks, and he’s turned his 24 targets into two 17+ FP performances with 7+ catches and 80+ yards in both games. He finished with 3/65/1 receiving in a Week 16 matchup with the Eagles and 4/27 in a Week 8 showdown, which both came without Dak in the lineup. The Eagles are giving up the fewest FPG (19.7) to WRs through two games, but they’ve also faced the second-fewest targets per game (13.0).
Amari Cooper picked up a rib injury against the Chargers last week on his way to finishing with just 3/24 receiving on five targets. He hasn’t missed a game since coming over to the Cowboys in the middle of 2018 despite a handful of minor injuries so we should expect him to play. He had 4/121 receiving in a Week 16 matchup against the Eagles after catching just a five-yard pass in a Week 8 showdown.
Cedrick Wilson caught both of his targets for 20 yards on 19 routes in his bigger role last week. Jauan Jennings scored on one of his 13 slot routes last week against the Eagles.
Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin continued to split the work at tight end in Week 2, with Jarwin holding the small advantage this time around. He posted 3/24 receiving on five targets and 16 routes while Schultz caught both of his targets for 18 yards on 15 routes. The Eagles limited George Kittle to 4/17 receiving last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Week 1-2 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 26.1 (12th)
Week 1-2 – Plays per game: 60.5 (23rd)
Week 1-2 – Pass: 52.0% (27th) | Run: 48.0% (6th)
Week 1-2 – Pace: 24.5 (4th)
Week 1-2 – Plays per game: 75.5 (2nd)
Week 1-2 – Pass: 66.2% (11th) | Run: 33.8% (22nd)
Even though Chargers-Cowboys flopped last week in the scoring department, Dallas has not disappointed from a tendencies standpoint. They’re playing fast and ripping off a ton of plays, just like last year. The Cowboys coaching staff has been impressive so far – they correctly threw the ball a ton to win against the Buccaneers (and came up just short) then went more balanced in Week 2 against the Chargers two-high safety looks. On the flipside, I loved the Eagles plan in Week 1 where Jalen Hurts got the ball out quickly and relied on YAC from his receivers – but for some reason, they reversed course in Week 2 as Hurts’ aDOT ballooned to 15.7 yards (highest on the slate). With Dallas looking like a well-oiled machine and playing fast along with opposing offenses attacking their defense through the air, this game is the second-best in the pace/plays model on the slate. We certainly have a pathway to a 55-60 total points shootout.
(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
In previous years, We would expect Eagle CB Darius Slay to resume his outstanding shadow coverage of Cowboy WR Amari Cooper (dealing with a rib injury), a matchup Cooper sees in his nightmares. But DC Jonathan Gannon’s new defense does not assign Slay with those responsibilities — the Eagles are highly zone-based after being a predominantly man scheme under Jim Schwartz.
Philadelphia’s pass defense has been stingy. But they have allowed 72% of FPs to WRs out of the slot. That’s certainly useful information. In Week 1, the Eagles embarrassed an unprepared Atlanta offense 32-6. In Week 2, Deebo Samuel went ballistic out of the slot. That is an outstanding example of the dangers in trusting statistics at face value. Always search for that context. Even if CeeDee Lamb is forced to collect his numbers aligned inside, he’s run nearly half of his routes from the slot.
On the flip side, I think Dallas will choose to shadow DeVonta Smith — the Eagles’ most dangerous WR — with Trevon Diggs, Smith’s former college teammate. After shutting Mike Evans down with a 1/10/0 line in Week 1, all it took was three targets while attempting to defend the elite route running of Keenan Allen to obliterate Diggs’ sexy coverage metrics. Those three targets resulted in 72% of the yardage permitted by Diggs this season. Still, Diggs does rank with the sixth-lowest targeted passer rating (43.2), only a touch above a repeatedly spiked football (39.6).
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Obviously, you’re starting Dak Prescott in a game in which the total is up and over 50, but the Cowboys could be a little bit dinged up at WR with Amari Cooper (ribs) likely less than 100% and Michael Gallup (calf) already out. Full steam ahead for CeeDee Lamb as a locked-in WR1, with Cooper a little further down the list despite the matchup with Darius Slay — as Wes pointed out, the Eagles have not traveled Slay at all under new DC Jonathan Gannon. It’s also good news for the Cowboys and backup RT Terence Steele that the Eagles will be without DE Brandon Graham (Achilles).
Cowboys WR Amari Cooper tells us he’ll be good to go vs. Eagles. Is rib bruised?— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) September 24, 2021
“Cracked,” Amari tells us. Says he doesn’t want to miss games because “I want to be the best.” pic.twitter.com/lHzVJhwHSn
Last week against the Chargers, a split-safety defense, the Cowboys came out and ran the ball with alacrity, with Ezekiel Elliott managing 16/71/1 rushing and 2/26 receiving on 71% of the snaps. But Dallas needs to keep using #2 RB Tony Pollard posted 13/109/1 rushing and 3/31 receiving on 34% of the snaps. Zeke has seen just four targets on 68 routes so far while Pollard has seven targets on 20 routes. The Eagles are also a split-safety defense — Gannon and Charger HC Brandon Staley run similar systems, and Zeke has been an Eagle killer in his career. In Pollard’s favor, the Eagles have given up 8.0 receptions per game to RBs so far this year. I like both RBs this week, with Zeke a low-end RB1 and Pollard an intriguing FLEX. That gap could close shortly.
Just like with Prescott, this is a game in which the line is up and over 50 and the Eagles are underdogs. It’s always a good week to start Jalen Hurts, but this one seems just as good as any.
One problem for the Eagles is that they could be down multiple starting linemen. RG Brandon Brooks (pec) is on short-term IR, and rookie Landon Dickerson is filling in. But LT Jordan Mailata (knee) was a surprise addition to the injury report this week after getting rolled up in practice on Thursday, so he could be a game-time decision, at best. That would force 2019 first-round bust Andre Dillard into the lineup. Yikes.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 24, 2021
However, the Cowboys are absolutely decimated up front, so much so that first-round pick LB Micah Parsons is playing out of position at defensive end. It will be a war of attrition on the lines.
Cowboys DE Bradlee Anae being added to Reserve/COVID-19 means that he will be unavailable Monday night vs. Eagles. Defensive line was already without DE DeMarcus Lawrence, DE Dorance Armstrong, DT Carlos Watkins, DT Neville Gallimore and DT Trysten Hill. https://t.co/9M2sGcHgny— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 24, 2021
Despite the Cowboys giving up the 2nd-most yards and 5th-most FPG to opposing WRs thus far, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Eagles come out and try to run the ball with Miles Sanders, who looks really good so far. The Cowboys are obviously hurting up the middle, and while Dickerson is a rookie, he looked much better in the ground game than in pass pro in Week 1. And obviously, Hurts offers a threat with his legs. Sanders is an RB2 and rookie Kenny Gainwell a desperation FLEX.
Wes outlined the struggles for DeVonta Smith above, but I still think Smith holds WR3 value — keep in mind Hurts missed him for a TD last week that was late and underthrown. If you’re pivoting away from Smith, you could take a flier on Quez Watkins against the lackluster coverage of Anthony Brown. I wonder if Jalen Reagor is going to have to eat his way out of the doghouse after stepping out of bounds on a stellar throw on a would-be-TD by Hurts last week.
The Eagles could be without TE Zach Ertz (COVID protocols) this week. That’s certainly noteworthy, because if Mailata can’t play, the Eagles could choose to keep Dallas Goedert in to block more often on the left edge to help Dillard. The Cowboys are a very gettable defense for TEs — they gave up 2 TDs to Rob Gronkowski in Week 1, and had 2 TDs to TEs come off the board to penalties (Jared Cook, Donald Parham) in Week 2.