Eagles

Eagles-Cowboys NFL Week 14 predictions

Eagles-Cowboys NFL Week 14 predictions

The Eagles (6-6) are coming off two straight wins as they head down to North Texas for a game that could decide first place against the Dallas Cowboys (7-5) at AT&T Stadium. 

To the predictions: 

Reuben Frank (6-6)
I’d like to think that wins over the Giants and Redskins were some kind of turning point for the Eagles. And maybe they were. But the Giants are a 4-8 disaster and the Redskins were out there with Mark Sanchez, and the reality is that even an average team should win those games at home. This is different. The Cowboys are hot. They're home. They’ve won four straight, and that win over the Saints was legit. Amari Cooper has transformed the Dallas offense, Dak Prescott is playing within himself, and the defense is stocked with speed and youth. And I just don’t think the Eagles, still banged up and undermanned, are ready for what they’re going to face Sunday at AT&T Stadium. I might feel differently if the Eagles weren’t coming off a short week and flying halfway across the country, and the Cowboys weren’t coming off a Thursday night home game. That’s a huge advantage. If the Eagles can force three turnovers, they’ll win. But they’ve forced nine all year. I just don’t like the timing and the matchups. 

Cowboys 20, Eagles 17

Dave Zangaro (5-7)
Maybe I’m crazy for thinking the Eagles are going to go on the road and beat a team that in its last time out took down the hottest team in the NFL. But I do. I think the key for this game is that the Eagles can control the trenches. It’s been the most positive thing I have seen over the last two weeks. You can argue that the Eagles haven’t seen a super high level of competition against the Giants and Redskins, but they won those games behind their offensive and defensive lines. I think they have the advantage in those two categories again. 

I expect Carson Wentz to have a good game, for the Eagles to find ways to keep Dallas’ defense off balance by running the ball and for the Eagles’ pass rush to get home against Prescott. If all that happens, the Eagles walk out of AT&T Stadium in first place in the NFC East. 

Eagles 24, Cowboys 23 

Derrick Gunn (6-6)
The Eagles got through the two division preliminary rounds (Giants and Redskins). Now comes the heavyweight match they’ve been playing for … the rematch with Dallas. The Cowboys put the rest of NFC on notice by knocking off the red-hot New Orleans Saints. I keep going back to the first meeting this season between the two and two things stand out. Kamu Grugier-Hill dropped what would have been a pick-6, and if Corey Clement had cut back to the inside on a screen pass that Dallas LB Leighton Vander Esch blew up … that might have been a TD also. And the outcome might have been different.  

But the Cowboys’ defense is legit. Arguably the fastest D in the league. They are fifth overall (318.2 yds allowed per game), fourth against the run (91.3) and second in points allowed (18.2). The 'Boys’ offense still runs through Ezekiel Elliott. With the addition of Cooper, it opens up the offense more for the Boys’ other weapons. Pro Bowl LT Tyron Smith, after missing the last two games, is slated to return this week.
     
The Eagles’ offense, the last two games, has been much more efficient, especially the run game. The Birds ran the ball 62 times (including six runs by Carson Wentz). Wentz seems to be even more effective when he’s outside of the pocket. Darren Sproles’ finally returning gives the offensive an explosiveness it’s been lacking. Zach Ertz is having a record-setting year and must win his matchups to aid the passing game. Golden Tate is finally settling in and starting to look like the receiver the Eagles traded for. The Birds’ defense cannot afford to have a multitude of mental mistakes this time around. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz says he like his D-line to get pressure on a QB and not blitz that much. But take notice, Jim, because Prescott was sacked seven times last week by the Saints, who brought pressure from different angles.
       
If the Birds can get pressure on Prescott, I like their chances, but even that may not be enough. I see this as a good, entertaining NFC East slugfest, but sorry, Bird Gang, I have to go with the home team this time. 

Cowboys 24, Eagles 17

Ray Didinger (7-5) 
Remember just a month ago we were writing the Cowboys' obituary. Head coach Jason Garrett was all but gone. Prescott was being written off. Troy Aikman was calling for a total overhaul of the organization.

Gee, how things have changed. Since then the Cowboys have won four in a row and they can pretty much lock up the NFC East with a win over the Eagles Sunday. Even Cowboy haters — of which there are many — had to be impressed with their 13-10 win over New Orleans. They shut down the same offense that dropped 48 points on the Eagles just two weeks earlier.

All the hard evidence points to a Dallas win but I like what I saw from the Eagles' offense last week. The O-line played much better, Carson Wentz was moving around and making big throws down the field. I think the Eagles are still stung by their poor showing against the Cowboys last month and will go to Dallas (where they have won six of their last eight games) with something to prove. Dust off the underdog masks.

Eagles 23, Cowboys 21

Andrew Kulp (6-6)
Judging from the tortured path they took to beating the team of insurance salesmen in Redskins uniforms on Monday, the Eagles are still a work in progress. And while the Cowboys may not be Super Bowl contenders exactly, they have an elite defense, and Cooper has really opened up the offense.

The still-shorthanded Eagles D won't have an answer for Elliott. Unless Carson Wentz suddenly ends his struggles in the red zone, the offense won't be able to keep up.

Cowboys 24, Eagles 19 

Corey Seidman (6-6) 
The Cowboys are due for a clunker, same as the Saints were due for one in their surprising loss to Dallas. The Cowboys are better than we expected and have looked good since Week 9, but are they really going to rip off eight straight wins to finish the season?

Evenly matched game, with the Eagles’ weak secondary giving every team they face the rest of the season hope. I just see an Eagles offense coming together, with a QB overdue to erupt for a standout, statement performance.

Eagles 34, Cowboys 31

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Way too soon to write off forgotten Eagles running back Josh Adams

Way too soon to write off forgotten Eagles running back Josh Adams

Every conversation we’ve had about Josh Adams this offseason, every podcast, every roster projection, every Twitter discussion, has come to the same conclusion.

“Oh, he's not going to make the team.”

It’s an understandable opinion.

The Eagles’ backfield is crowded. Corey Clement is back, Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard have been added, Boston Scott had an impressive summer. Wendell Smallwood always seems to find a way to stick around. One-time fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey is still here.

And Adams? Because his production dropped late in the season and then he was the forgotten man in the postseason, playing just one combined snap against the Bears and Saints, we’ve all just kind of assumed he’s gone.

And maybe he is.

But let’s take a minute to take a fresh look at Adams.

There was a stretch in the middle of last season when he was actually one of the more productive running backs in the league.

From Week 7 through Week 14, a span of seven games, Adams averaged 5.1 yards per carry, seventh-best among all running backs in the league who had at least 75 carries during that stretch.

Look at this stretch from the Jaguars game in London through the overtime loss to the Cowboys in Dallas:

9-for-61, 6.8 at Jaguars
7-for-47, 6.7 vs. Cowboys
7-for-53, 7.6 at Saints
22-for-84, 3.8, vs. Giants
20-for-85, 4.3 vs. Redskins
7-for-36, 5.1 at Cowboys

That’s solid, consistent production, especially for an undrafted rookie who began the year on the practice squad.

Here’s one thing I really liked about Adams: He was always good for at least one long run per game. During the seven-week stretch from the Jaguars game through the first Redskins game, he ripped off six runs of 18 yards or longer, and during that period, only Saquon Barkley (8) and Joe Mixon (7) had more in the entire NFL.

Now at some point late in the season, Adams hurt his shoulder seriously enough that he needed post-season surgery to repair a torn labrum.

It’s not clear when Adams got hurt, but he kept playing, and the injury would certainly help explain the late-season drop in production.

Adams averaged just 2.7 yards per carry the last three weeks of the regular season and then got that one postseason snap, a two-yard carry against the Bears.

But when evaluating Adams and his possible future as an Eagle, we have to take the injury into consideration.

Adams did enough during that two-month stretch in the middle of the season to at least warrant an honest look this summer.

Even starting the season on the practice squad, getting just 11 carries the first seven weeks of the season and then getting hurt, Adams still led the Eagles in rushing and became the 20th undrafted rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 500 yards, three or more TDs and an average of 4.3 yards per-carry or higher.

When you step back and look at his season, he was pretty darn good in all but the two December games against the Rams, the NFC champs, and the Texans, who had the No. 3 rush defense in the NFL.

Obviously, Sanders and Howard project to be the heart of the running attack. A healthy Clement can catch, run, block and play special teams. Smallwood and Scott can both run, catch and return.

Adams is limited. He isn’t a polished receiver — he caught just seven passes last year — and he plays very little on special teams — just 48 snaps as a rookie, only two in the last six games.

That puts him at a disadvantage from the start. So for him to win a spot on the 53 the Warrington native and former Notre Dame star has to have a healthy training camp and show exceptional production as a runner.

The odds are against him. But Adams is 22, he was the Eagles’ leading rusher last year, and undrafted rookies don’t have an eight-game stretch averaging 5.1 yards per carry by accident.

If we got rid of every rookie running back who had two mediocre games at the end of a productive season there wouldn’t be any running backs left.

Adams is talented. It’s tough to say where he fits in, but it’s way too early to say he doesn’t.

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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at defensive end?

ap_derek_barnett_eagles.jpg
AP Images/Winslow Townson

Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at defensive end?

It was out with the old, and in with some more of the old for the Eagles at defensive end this offseason. Will the returning players make the unit better or worse in 2019?

Key additions: Vinny Curry (free agent, Buccaneers), Shareef Miller (draft, fourth round) 
Key departures: Michael Bennett (trade, Patriots), Chris Long (retired)

Why they could be better: Derek Barnett’s potential

Barnett had a nice rookie season with 6.0 sacks, including playoffs, and finished fourth on the club with eight tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits, all while playing only 41 percent of the snaps. It was looking like he could take the next step in 2018, too, with 2.5 sacks four games into the campaign — until a shoulder injury struck. Then it was a matter of weeks before he wound up on the injured reserve list. Up to that point, it looked like the former 14th-overall draft pick was very much on the verge of a breakout season.

There’s really no reason that can’t still be the case. At least, nobody ever expects a shoulder injury to derail a defensive end’s career. The Eagles are likely penciling him in for the starting job on the opposite end from Brandon Graham, and why not? As long as he’s healthy, Barnett’s body of work thus far suggests he’s on his way to enjoying a successful NFL career.

Why they could be worse: Michael Bennett’s proven production

One can assume the real reason the Eagles’decided to part ways with Bennett was over something (or things) behind the scenes. It wasn’t the return — a fifth-round pick for Bennett and a seventh. It wasn’t the contract, because the Patriots only wound up giving him an additional $1.25 million in base salary and no new years. And it sure as hell wasn’t production, because the three-time Pro Bowler was the Eagles’ most disruptive pass-rusher off the edge by a wide margin.

Bennett finished with 10.0 sacks last season, including playoffs, and it should’ve been 12.0 except for two blatantly incorrect roughing penalties. He also ranked fourth in the entire NFL with 30 quarterback hits, and narrowly finished outside the top-10 with 15 tackles for loss. Granted, Bennett turns 34 in November, and it’s possible his personality simply wasn’t a fit here. Regardless, the numbers speak for themselves.

The X-factor: Brandon Graham’s inevitable decline

Everybody loves BG. The sack totals haven’t always been there, save for the 9.5 he registered in 2017 — plus one pivotal strip sack in the Super Bowl — but he was always more productive than traditional counting stats indicated. Graham is 31 now, though, and last year was his least effective rushing the passer in a long time. His 4.0 regular season sacks and 1 forced fumble were his lowest since 2013, and this wasn’t merely a matter of racking up a bunch of Mamulas, either, as he landed just 11 quarterback hits.

Fortunately for the Eagles, who just signed Graham to a new three-year deal worth $40 million in the offseason, there are reasons to believe he could bounce back. First, he was coming off of offseason ankle surgery and only rejoined the team in mid-August. Second, he was still stout against the run. Third, Graham showed signs of life in the playoffs with 1.5 sacks and a strip. So, was his down season a matter of circumstance, or is this the new BG?

Are the Eagles’ defensive ends better or worse?

If he’s 100 percent, Barnett has the ability to blossom into a star. He was well on his way last season. Yet, the Eagles are depending on him to replace Bennett’s production, re-signed Vinny Curry to replace retired Chris Long’s production, and Brandon Graham to stop aging so noticeably. It also wouldn’t hurt if one of Shareef Miller, Josh Sweat or Joe Ostman became a reliable fifth rusher. The Eagles got younger, and arguably more talented, but there are too many questions to say the ends are better on paper. 

WORSE

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