Dallas Cowboys (11-5, 12-4 ATS) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-7, 8-7-1), 8:30 p.m., Saturday
Brolley’s Cowboys Stats and Trends
Dallas could rest some key starters for some or all of their showdown with the Eagles this week. They still have an outside shot at climbing into the #2 seed if they win, but they’d need the Rams (vs. SF), Cards (vs. Sea), and Bucs (vs. Car) to each lose this on Sunday. Dallas also just lost Michael Gallup to a torn ACL so it would be a bizarre move if they play their key players for all four quarters.
The Cowboys beat the Eagles 41-21 as 3.5-point home favorites in a game totaled at 51 points back in late September.
Dallas is tied with Green Bay for the best ATS record at 12-4.
Dallas is 7-1 ATS in its last eight road games
The Cowboys are 4-1 ATS in their last five games.
Dallas is 8-2 toward unders in its last 10 games.
It turns out Dak Prescott isn’t quite out of the woods just yet despite throwing for three touchdowns and posting 24.0 FP in their loss to the Cardinals. He averaged just 6.0 YPA against Arizona, which is the fourth time in his last five games that he’s finished at 6.0 YPA or worse. With Gallup tearing his ACL last week and with Dak coming off a catastrophic injury last season, the Cowboys would be wise to take it easy on Dak, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Dalton Schultz this week.
Cedrick Wilson was the next man up in three-WR sets last week just like he was at the beginning of the season when Gallup missed seven games in Weeks 2-9. Wilson caught all six of his targets for 35 yards and a touchdown and he added a 31-yard pass for 18.7 FP. Wilson reached double-digit FP just twice when Gallup missed time earlier this season. Dallas may play backup Cooper Rush for significant snaps, and Wilson posted 3/84/1 receiving in Rush’s lone start in Week 8.
Ezekiel Elliott needs 85 rushing yards to reach 1000 yards for the season, which is a mark he hasn’t reached since Week 5. Zeke is likely to have his reps managed this week and Tony Pollard is likely in the same boat since he’s been managing a foot injury since early December. Corey Clement is the best bet to lead this backfield in carries this week.
Brolley’s Eagles Stats and Trends
The Eagles don’t have a whole to play for against the Cowboys and their COVID outbreak this week makes it even more likely that they rest their top available starters for some or all of their Saturday night contest. Philadelphia is locked into either the #6 or #7 seed in the NFC so it has little to gain by playing its top players.
The Eagles have played over the total in four straight home games.
Philly is 3-1-1 ATS in its last five home games
Kenneth Gainwell could be the last man standing in their backfield this week with Miles Sanders (hand), Jordan Howard (COVID), and Boston Scott (COVID) all potentially missing this week. Gainwell has four rushing TDs on just 56 carries this season, and he’s averaging 3.8 YPC and he has 29/244/1 receiving as a rookie. The Cowboys are giving up the fourth-fewest FPG (20.0) to RBs this season.
Philly’s offense will likely be in the hands of Gardner Minshew and Reid Sinnett this week with Jalen Hurts likely to rest. Dallas Goedert landed on the COVID list and they could give rookie WR DeVonta Smith the week off, which would leave receiving duties in the hands of Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, and Tyree Jackson.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 24.3 (1st)
Plays per game: 68.4 (2nd)
Pass: 63.3% (6th) | Run: 36.7% (27th)
Pace: 29.7 (23rd)
Plays per game: 66.4 (5th)
Pass: 44.4% (32nd) | Run: 55.6% (1st)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
This is the No. 1 game in the pace / play model for Week 18 with Dallas playing faster than everyone else and both offenses generating a ton of volume, but unfortunately there are massive playing time concerns here. The Eagles are going through a bad COVID outbreak right before the postseason and HC Nick Sirriani said on Monday this week he was considering resting some of his starters.
On the flipside, Dallas would be foolish to play Dak Prescott and their guys for more than a few possessions – especially considering that they are basically locked into the 4 seed in the NFC. FootballOutsiders’ playoff probabilities have the Cowboys with a 90.2% chance of the 4 seed no matter if they win or lose.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
A lingering ankle injury for Jalen Hurts has sapped his ground game, and the potential for Gardner Minshew II splitting reps in a meaningless game makes for an avoidable situation. The catalyst for the passing offense has been Dallas Goedert ($5.2K/$6.3K) all season. Both Goedert and Jack Stoll are unlikely to play after being placed on the COVID list. Needless to say, the passing game for Philly is not going to be in a good place. However, Tyree Jackson might see enough reps to be an excellent dart throw.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Eagles are essentially gaming the COVID system — they have a mostly meaningless game in Week 18 (they’re locked into the 6th or 7th seed in the NFC) so they basically tested everyone on their team.
Roster Moves: Eagles have placed LB Genard Avery, DT Fletcher Cox, S Marcus Epps, TE Dallas Goedert, G Nate Herbig, RB Jordan Howard, C Jason Kelce, CB Avonte Maddox, S Rodney McLeod, RB Boston Scott, LB Alex Singleton, and TE Jack Stoll on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. pic.twitter.com/qvtMRcaCuo— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 3, 2022
Not only do I expect Jalen Hurts to play a series or two at most, I’m not even sure Gardner Minshew will play the whole game. The Eagles could give plenty of reps to third-string QB Reid Sinnett. This could be a big Kenneth Gainwell game.
Meanwhile, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said his team — which cannot get the #1 seed in the NFC — will still be playing its starters.
Mike McCarthy on Cowboys playing starters in finale vs. Eagles: “We need to stay in a rhythm. This is our first time in the playoffs together. We want to go in there as strong as possible with momentum and play style.”— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 3, 2022
Vegas has the Cowboys as touchdown favorites on the road in Philly, which seems to indicate the markets believe him, but I still have a hard time imagining McCarthy and company will go all out with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper — all of whom have dealt with injuries this year — and the rest, especially since they just lost Michael Gallup to a torn ACL. And they’re also dealing with a COVID outbreak.
Use the key Cowboys at your own risk, but given they’re likely to be facing a shell of an Eagles team, there’s massive upside here if they play the whole game.