Eagles vs. Cowboys on Dec. 22 Will Likely Decide NFC East
Their identical 5-4 records show that the Eagles and Cowboys are tied for first place in the NFC East.
Reality is that Dallas holds the edge after whipping the Eagles 37-10 back on Oct. 20 in the Cowboys’ Texas backyard. Reality is Dallas has owned the Eagles recently, beating them in their previous four meetings.
The reason why has to do with one person – running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Other teams can stop Elliott, the way the Minnesota Vikings did on Sunday night, holding the thorn in the Eagles’ side to just 47 yards rushing on 20 carries and limiting to two catches for 16 yards and no touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 28-24 defeat.
To put it bluntly, the Eagles cannot stop Elliott.
Elliott is 5-0 in his career against the Eagles, averaging 4.86 yards per carry with 574 yards on 118 carries. He has been held below 100 yards in just one of those games and in that game, which was the first one Elliott played against the Eagles and he still had 96 in that one.
Not only can the Eagles not stop Elliott on the ground, but in the air, too. He has 31 catches in those five games, which is an average of more than six catches per game, for 241 yards.
The Eagles will get one more crack at Elliott and the Cowboys, and that one game, which will be played on Dec. 22, is likely to be for the division title.
Each team has five games before that, so a lot that can happen between now and then. Yet here they are now after nine games, each with five wins and four losses.
The Eagles have a slightly easier schedule until then, though there is nothing easy about their next two opponents – the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 3-1 against the Eagles in the regular season and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is 3-0 against them; nothing easy about that, though both games will be at Lincoln Financial Field.
Meanwhile, Dallas is on the road the next two weeks and will play at Detroit, which will probably be without quarterback Matthew Stafford who was diagnosed with broken bones in his back heading into this past weekend, and New England.
The two games after that, however, have the Eagles playing in Miami and hosting the Giants. Those teams have a combined 4-15 record.
The Cowboys host the Bills then go to Chicago. Buffalo and the Bears have a combined 10-8 record.
The final game before the two teams meet again is favorable to the Eagles, who will play at the 1-8 Redskins while the Cowboys host the 5-4 Rams.
Add it all up and the Dec. 22 game will, in all likelihood, be for the NFC East title and a playoff berth.
If the Eagles can’t figure out a way to stop Elliott then, the title will be won by Dallas for a second straight season and end the long drought of the NFC East having a back-to-back winner since 2003 and 2004.
And likely leave the Eagles out of the postseason.
Here is the remaining schedule for both teams:
At Dolphins (2-7)
At Redskins (1-8)
At Giants (2-8)
At Lions (3-5-1)
At Patriots (8-1)
At Bears (4-5)
At Eagles (5-4)