After a disappointing 21-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks last weekend the Cowboys are now 8-7 and officially out of the playoff race. They’ll play against the number one seeded Philadelphia Eagles in a game that is completely meaningless to both teams besides for evaluation purposes.
The Cowboys and Eagles have seen their teams take a complete 180-degree flip from where they were last season in their week 17 matchup. The Eagles are now destined for home field throughout the playoffs and the Cowboys are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with nothing to play for. An absolute reversal of 2016’s week 17.
Philadelphia isn’t 13-2 for nothing, they’ve overcome injuries all season. Most notably their pro-bowl left tackle Jason Peters, their explosive running back Darren Sproles, and most notably their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz.
One constant for the Eagles has been their all-pro defensive lineman, Fletcher Cox. The six-year veteran has once again been wreaking havoc on opposing offenses as NFL fans are all too used to seeing over his career.
Cox is second on the team in sacks with 5.5, that may not seem like a big number for a spotlight player but for a 3-4 defensive lineman like Cox whose job is normally to stop the run and clog gaps for his outside linebackers to rush the passer, those are pretty impressive numbers.
Speaking of stopping the run, the Eagles are number one in the NFL at stopping runs at the line of scrimmage, in fact, they do it on 30 percent of running plays according to footballoutsiders.com, for reference the league average for stuffing runs is 21 percent.
Seeing as how Cox is the most talented player on the Philadelphia defense, it’s fair to say that he has a pretty big hand in that statistic. His ability to take on multiple blockers and still make an impact is what makes Cox one of, if not the most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL.
Cowboys fans know that the most effective way that Dallas moves the ball is on the ground, they are the number three team in the NFL in yards per game on the ground. Even in the 37-9 slaughtering that Dallas took against the Eagles earlier this season, they were able to run the ball without Ezekiel Elliott.
The interior lineman of the Cowboys (Frederick, Martin, Cooper) will have a big task containing Cox and the rest of the Philadelphia down linemen. Another important aspect of this game will be for Dallas to convert their drives into touchdowns, not field goals. Nine points won’t be good enough to beat the Eagles.
I believe the Cowboys will fight with the Eagles, rather than lay down now that their season is over. They will give Philadelphia their best punch but will ultimately fall short, 24-20.
Although the season is all but over that doesn’t mean that Cowboy news will stop, potential coaching changes and draft rumors will continue throughout the offseason. Next season is only eight months away.