Eagles at Cowboys: Our (cough) expert predictions

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Eagles at Cowboys: Our (cough) expert predictions

The Eagles, fresh off the bye week, clash with the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football at AT&T Stadium for a big NFC East showdown.

A win for the Eagles would put them back at .500 while handing Dallas its sixth straight loss. Will it happen?

Our experts offer their predictions:

Derrick Gunn (2-5)
The Eagles, coming out of the bye week, hope they play a lot better than they did prior to it. Both the Eagles and Cowboys are desperate for a win.

For the most part, the Eagles will be healthy going into this matchup, but Jason Peters (back) is out and DeMeco Ryans (hamstring) is questionable. Peters' absence is huge because Lane Johnson slides over to left tackle to face the Cowboys' Greg Hardy.

Dallas doesn't have much of a run game and the Eagles' defense has been pretty good against the run all season.

Sam Bradford has to get it going in a hurry, while Cowboys replacement QB Matt Cassel has been inconsistent at best in two starts.

Look for the Eagles to struggle but in the end survive in this divisional grudge match

Eagles 20, Cowboys 10

Ray Didinger (2-5)
The Dallas coaches spent this week watching the film of Carolina's smash mouth running game beating up on the Eagles to the tune of 204 yards. No doubt the Cowboys drew up the game plan for Sunday's showdown borrowing heavily on the Panthers' approach. With Matt Cassel (58.5 passer rating) at quarterback, the Cowboys would much prefer running the ball to passing it so that's what they will try to do. It is up to the Eagles' defense to stop it.

The Eagles missed DeMeco Ryans in Carolina and they will miss him again if he can't go Sunday, but the Cowboys are short on weapons. Dez Bryant is still limited by his foot injury and Darren McFadden came back down to earth last week (20 carries, 64 yards). Not much scoring in this one but I expect the Eagles to win ugly.

Eagles 20, Cowboys 14

John Gonzalez (4-3)
When last we saw the Cowboys, they were busy beating the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Much has happened since then. The Cowboys have lost every game they’ve played after upending the Eagles. That’s five in a row if you’re counting at home (and even if you’re not). After Tony Romo went down, Jerry Jones said Brandon Weeden would be a capable backup. Jerry Jones was wrong. Jerry Jones insisted Joseph Randle would help the running game take some of the pressure off the passing game. Jerry Jones was wrong. Jerry Jones also called Greg Hardy a leader. Oh boy was Jerry Jones wrong about that one. Jerry Jones is wrong a lot.

The Eagles are kind of a mess right now, but the Cowboys are much worse off. This is a default pick.

Eagles 24, Cowboys 20

Corey Seidman (3-4)
There are many reasons I think the Eagles could or should win this game, but I just don't see this patchwork offensive line being able to contain Greg Hardy and the Cowboys' pass rush. Dallas has an underratedly solid defense, and unless the Eagles' receivers finally show an ability to consistently get open, Sam Bradford won't have the time in the pocket to find them.

Maybe the offense breaks through and makes major strides coming out of the bye. But through seven games the Eagles' offense has looked dangerous only once, really, against the Saints.

Cowboys 20, Eagles 16

Andrew Kulp (3-4)
The Cowboys are losers of five straight and recently turned to Matt Cassel to keep their season afloat. So far, no good. When Cassel's first or second read isn't there, he tends to flee a perfectly good pocket and run. I can't imagine the Eagles' front seven allowing that. It should harass the Dallas quarterback into plenty of sacks and maybe a few giveaways — after all, this is the most opportunistic defense in the NFL.

Meanwhile, it's on Sam Bradford to protect the football and mount one or two long drives against a tougher-than-advertised Cowboys defense. As long as the signal-caller isn't turning the ball over and the offense isn't constantly three-and-out, the Eagles' defense should put the team in some quality scoring positions. I see it being a bit of a field-position battle, with the Birds eventually coming out on top.

Eagles 23, Cowboys 16

Andy Schwartz (4-3)
Both teams have good defenses and suspect offenses. OK, right now, sans Tony Romo, the Cowboys' offense isn't just suspect; it's bad.

The Eagles are coming off a bye week and are motivated to make amends for the Week 2 debacle against Dallas at the Linc.

The defense will create a turnover or three, the receivers will actually catch a few passes, DeMarco Murray will score at least one TD against his former club, and the Birds will leave the monstrosity that is AT&T Stadium with a victory.

Eagles 24, Cowboys 20

Dave Zangaro (3-0)
The Cowboys are on their third quarterback this season. They're having blow-ups on the sideline. They just cut their opening-day starter at running back.

The Eagles better win this game. If they can't win this game, it says a lot more about them than it does the Cowboys.

I expect the defense to shut down Matt Cassel, a hobbled Dez Bryant and the rest of the Cowboys' offense. The Eagles' offense can't possibly be any worse than it was against the Cowboys in the first meeting between the two teams, even with Greg Hardy's being back.

Eagles 33, Cowboys 23

Instant Replay: Eagles 33, Colts 23

Instant Replay: Eagles 33, Colts 23

BOX SCORE

INDIANAPOLIS – Stop us if you’ve heard this before: the Eagles looked really good in the all-important third preseason game.
 
The offense hummed, the defense stuffed, and the team took down Andrew Luck and the Colts 33-23 at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night to improve to 3-0 this preseason.
 
Now, take that with a grain of salt. Heck, take it with a shaker of salt. The fan base was fooled last year when Sam Bradford and the Eagles looked Super Bowl-bound with a Preseason Week 3 win over the Packers. Cue up The Who’s “We Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
 
Still, the Eagles’ starters were impressive against the Colts on Saturday night on both sides of the ball.
 
Sam the man
Just like he did in this game last year, Bradford was extremely efficient. He completed 17 of 20 pass for 167 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception – and the interception wasn’t his fault.
 
https://twitter.com/RoobCSN/status/769697863236542465
 
Give credit to the first-team offensive line too. Despite the shuffling on the line, Bradford was kept pretty clean most of the night, was sacked just once.
 
Wideouts look like wideouts
The Eagles’ wide receivers caught footballs on Saturday night, an important check mark on the “are we a real team yet?” list. Josh Huff came to play on Saturday night and had an impressive game; he had a 38-yard catch in the first half. Huff is still dangerous when the Eagles can get the ball in his hands.
 
Perhaps the one play that will have Eagles fans most excited was a fade from Bradford to newcomer Dorial Green-Beckham for a four-yard touchdown. The Eagles tried a fade to DGB earlier in the game, but it looked like he weirdly stopped on the route.
 
One negative was Nelson Agholor’s drop in the first half. Bradford hit him in the hands and the second-year wideout popped it in the air for an interception. Rueben Randle didn’t get much work with the first team.
 
We also saw plenty of three-tight end sets, a sign of things to come. Trey Burton continues to catch everything, which included a touchdown pass on Saturday night.
 
Doug gets creative
The Eagles’ first touchdown came on a 9-yard jet sweep carry to Huff. We’ve seen the Eagles work these plays in during practice, but it finally happened in a game. While many fans have been rightfully frustrated by Huff, his versatility remains the big reason why he’s probably on the 53-man roster.
 
Dominant D-line
The Eagles need their defensive line to be the catalyst for the defense and it was on Saturday night. Connor Barwin, Beau Allen and Bennie Logan had first-half sacks. And they weren’t the only ones causing pressure. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Taylor Hart also caused trouble.
 
A couple times, Jim Schwartz lined Cox up as a defensive end and Curry inside at tackle. Cox crushed Luck on one of those plays.
 
Keeping Luck in check
The Eagles held Luck to 134 yards and no touchdowns, while the Colts first-team offense had just 129 total net yards and was 2 for 7 on third downs. Luck made a few solid throws, but didn’t do too much damage.
 
Rest of the D
The rest of the defense certainly benefitted from the strong play up front. Mychal Kendricks didn’t stand out good or bad in his first game of the preseason. The team worked in undrafted rookie C.J. Smith with the first team to get an extended look at the youngster.
 
Nolan Carroll missed a tackle in the second half that led to a big gain. Carroll did start the game with Leodis McKelvin, completing his ascension to starter over Ron Brooks. A little later on that same drive, Carroll picked off a pass to end a long drive from the Colts. It was the Eagles’ eighth interception of the preseason and third in the red zone.
 
Kicker battle
Caleb Sturgis already appeared ahead of Cody Parkey for the kicker job and Saturday certainly didn’t do anything to change that. Sturgis hit a 32-yarder and a 47-yarder, while Parkey missed an extra point.
 
Injuries
Curry left early with a knee injury and didn’t return – although he wasn’t expected to continue to play anyway. Wendell Smallwood and Chris Pantale left the game early to be evaluated for head injuries. Pantale did not have a concussion and returned. Hart left the game with a knee sprain and didn’t return.
 
Several Eagles were ruled out earlier in the week and didn’t play: Carson Wentz, Jordan Matthews, Aaron Grymes, Mike Martin, Alex McCalister, Hunter Sharp, Joe Walker and Isaac Seumalo.
 
Up next
The Eagles wrap up the preseason next week, when they host the Jets on Sept. 1. After that, they’ll have a little over a week to prepare for the season opener at home against the Browns on Sept. 11.

Carson Wentz goes through lengthy pregame warmup in Indy

Carson Wentz goes through lengthy pregame warmup in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS -- Carson Wentz isn't playing on Saturday night against the Colts, but the No. 2 overall pick might have a chance to play in the preseason finale on Thursday, which has been the hope all along. 

Wentz went through a lengthy pregame warmup -- about an hour -- on Saturday as his teammates prepared to face Andrew Luck and the Colts. Long after Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel went into the locker room, Wentz continued to throw. 

This week's pregame warmup was much more intense than the one he was put through last week in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, he dropped back to throw and looked smooth throwing on the run, even across his body. Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo put Wentz through the hour-long workout on Saturday. Leaving the field after the workout, offensive coordinator Frank Reich agreed that Wentz looked good. 

The real test will be the X-ray, because no matter how good he feels or how much he lobbies, he'll need to be cleared before he's allowed to return. Shortly after the injury, Wentz said practice would be determined by his pain tolerance and game action would be determined by medical personnel. If he doesn't play against the Jets, it could be a while before Eagles fans get to see their quarterback of the future. 

Another hurdle is the short week of practice thanks to a Thursday game coming after a Saturday game. 

"It's interesting because next week we only got really two days of practice," Doug Pederson said earlier in the week. "We'll see. We'll evaluate him through the weekend. [We’ll] take him on this trip and work him out a little bit when we get to Indy [Indianapolis], and then again next Monday and Tuesday. We've got to at least get a day's work with him in order for him to go in the game next Thursday."

Along with Wentz, there are several other Eagles who won't play against the Colts: Aaron Grymes, Alex McCalister, Joe Walker, Jordan Matthews, Isaac Seumalo and Mike Martin.

NFL Notes: Romo has broken bone in back; Kaepernick protests anthem

NFL Notes: Romo has broken bone in back; Kaepernick protests anthem

FRISCO, Texas -- Tony Romo is out with yet another back injury and it's unknown when he will return, although Dallas coach Jason Garrett says he expects his star quarterback to play this season.

Garrett said Saturday that Romo sustained a broken bone in his back when he was hit from behind by Seattle's Cliff Avrill and slid awkwardly on the third play of a preseason game.

Romo tried to get back into Thursday's game and said afterward that he was OK. But Garrett said the 36-year-old woke up Friday with stiffness, and an MRI revealed Romo's fourth back injury in less than four years. The injury will not require surgery.

Garrett wouldn't rule out Romo for the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against the New York Giants. Rookie Dak Prescott, a fourth-round pick who has had a strong preseason, is the presumed starter, although Garrett wouldn't acknowledge that either (see full story).

49ers: Kaepernick refuses to stand for anthem in protest
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is refusing to stand for the national anthem before games because he believes the United States oppresses African Americans and other minorities.

Kaepernick sat on the team's bench Friday night during the anthem before the Niners played host to the Green Bay Packers in an exhibition game. He later explained his reasoning in an interview with NFL Media .

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Saturday that "players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."

The 49ers issued a statement after Pro Football Talk initially reported on Kaepernick's stand, saying that Americans have the right to protest or support the anthem (see full story).

Falcons: Free agent S Dashon Goldson works out with team
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons have given a workout to veteran free-agent safety Dashon Goldson, the former Redskins starter.

The Falcons will be without rookie safety Keanu Neal, the projected starter, for at least the first two regular-season games with a right knee injury.

Coach Dan Quinn said Saturday that backup Kemal Ishmael would fill in for Neal as the starting strong safety even if the team signs Goldson, 31. General manager Thomas Dimitroff says Goldson also has interest from other teams.

The Falcons cut nine players, including backup quarterback Sean Renfree, to reach the roster limit of 75 players on Saturday (see full story).