By Justin Mark, SGPN Football Handicapper
Last week was a rough one for my picks. I went 1-5 for the Eagles’ picks if you count taking them the Eagles to win the game straight-up. In what surprisingly was a low-scoring game, at least the Eagles came away with a victory and moved to a perfect 5-0. This week the Eagles will face a heated rival, and perhaps their toughest test all year, the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas is 4-0 with Cooper Rush at quarterback. They’ve also been very good against the spread, winning 4 out of 5 times, including 2-0 on the road. Right now, it is not believed that Dak Prescott will play, therefore Rush will face his toughest defensive test yet. However, the Eagles will also have to contend with a strong Cowboys’ defense.
Key Defensive Matchup
The Cowboys have been winning games, but not necessarily due to a stellar offense. They are 27th in total yards, 28th in passing yards, and 15th in rushing yards. The key to stopping them really boils down to limiting big plays. While that seems obvious, they must make sure receivers CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup don’t get too much separation and that Cooper Rush is forced into making mistakes. They must also limit running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Pollard has run the ball more efficiently than Elliott, though both can rack up a good chunk of yardage each game. Stopping the run and pressuring Rush on pass plays will be the key to winning the game.
Key Offensive Matchup
The Cowboys’ defense, led by Penn State standout Micah Parsons, has been strong all year, averaging four sacks a game and 1.4 turnovers a game. They are tough across the board; however, they have allowed the 19th most rushing yards per game at 117.6. The Eagles’ ground game is effective with that strong offensive line, averaging 160 yards a game, fourth-best in the NFL. The key to controlling this game will be running the ball efficiently, burning clock, and using the play-action pass after the run has been established. While it would be great to see the Eagles torch the Cowboys’ defensive backfield, it would be risky to try without first establishing the run.
Primetime Sunday night is going to attract a big audience and the game is pivotal what is shaking out to be one of the better divisions. And while Cooper Rush hasn’t lost a game as a starter and has these Dallas Cowboys believing, this Eagles’ defense is one of the best in the league and the team overall is well-rounded. Here are my picks below, though I’m not crazy about the total at 42.5. That’s a tough one to pick.
Looking at lines on WynnBet , this week I feel the Eagles will continue their NFL dominance, win outright and go to 6-0. I think the Eagles win by 3 in a close one, which wouldn’t cover their spread so I have to take the Cowboys +6 points. The total is lower than most Eagles games but for good reason. Both defenses are solid and I see another low-scoring affair. I’ll take the under 42.5.
Bonus Prop Bets
One thing all bettors know is that props are difficult to hit consistently. We’ve certainly felt that. Because this game is a Sunday night game, not a lot of player props are available until the day of the game. You can follow my Twitter (see below) and I will release my three favorite prop bets before the game starts as well as my favorite first touchdown bet. However, for what is available now, I like Dallas Cowboys’ Team Total Under 17.5
You can find all my picks and the rest of the SGPN crew’s picks here.
Justin Mark is co-host of SGPN Fantasy Football’s show “Old-Fashioned Football” and a writer for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JMarkFootball and The Sports Gambling Podcast @GamblingPodcast.