Philadelphia Eagles 2020 Week 16 Preview

Can the Eagles manage to keep their playoff hopes alive?

The Philadelphia Eagles travel to Arlington, Texas, to take on the Dallas Cowboys in a week-16 showdown.

The Eagles lost a close one against the Arizona Cardinals last week, while the Cowboys are coming off a win against the San Francisco 49ers in which Dallas tied its season high in points (41). 

Both teams have an incredibly low chance of making the playoffs, but there is still a chance for either team to advance if everything falls into place.

Either team is eliminated from playoff contention with a loss, and both teams will be looking to keep its hopes alive while eliminating its divisional rival.

Let’s examine both teams ahead of this key divisional matchup.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1):

The Eagles have yet to score 30 or more points in any game this year. The only other team to have not eclipsed the 30-point mark in a game this season is the Jets – a team that won its first game last week. 

However, the Eagles’ offense has new life recently because of one man: Jalen Hurts.

Hurts, who has started for the Eagles the last two games, has brought a new energy to the Eagles’ offense.

Making plays both with his legs and with his arm, Hurts will be looking to build on his recent successes. In two starts this season, Hurts has two passing touchdowns and 505 passing yards, not to mention 169 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.

The Eagles’ offense needs Hurts’ dual-threat ability to keep opposing defenses off-balance.

Hurts has been spreading the ball around to plenty of targets; yet, no one receiver has had an explosive game.

Can players like Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz have a huge impact this week? (Wikimedia Commons)

Hurts found eight different receivers against the New Orleans Saints and nine different receivers against the Arizona Cardinals. However, the leading receiver in either of those games was Zach Ertz with just 69 receiving yards. 

It’s great that the Eagles are getting everyone involved, but these receivers need to do more than just catch a few passes for about 20 yards.

The Eagles need someone to step up and have a breakout game. The Eagles have favored the tight end position in recent history, so could this be a huge game for either Dallas Goedert or Ertz?

Defensively, the Eagles need to step it up.

The Eagles are No. 20 in the NFL in yards given up per game (360.6). The Cowboys have averaged 35.4 points per game since the team’s week 10 bye.

Regardless of how well Hurts plays, the Eagles need to win the game defensively by forcing the Cowboys’ offense to make mistakes, especially considering the fact the Eagles’ season high in points is 29.

If the Eagles can’t shut down the Cowboys’ offense, they are going to make things very difficult for the rookie Hurts.

Dallas Cowboys (5-9):

With Dak Prescott out for the season after his ankle injury against the New York Giants in week 5, you’d expect Ezekiel Elliott to step up and play a huge role in the Cowboys’ offense. 

Will this be the week Zeke has a dynamic performance? (Wikimedia Commons)

However, Elliott has been a nonfactor all-season long.

Elliott has only one game with over 100 yards rushing (week 11 against Minnesota). With just an average of 64 rushing yards per game and only five total rushing touchdowns, Elliott hasn’t been a catalyst for an offense that could use a leader. 

This is a great opportunity for Elliott to get back on track as the Eagles, on average, give up the 9th most rushing yards per game (125.6).

Elliott needs to pace this offense and be a spark for a team trying to make the playoffs.

While the Cowboys have used quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci in Prescott’s absence, they have still been a solid team passing the football. 

Even after losing their franchise quarterback, the Cowboys are still No. 11 in average passing yards per game with 257.1. 

This is better than teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans and Saints, who are all favorites to make the playoffs. 

The Cowboys have been led by a receiving trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb. This group of wide outs has caught 197 passes for 2,452 yards. 

Look for these weapons to have a major impact on how this game plays out for the Cowboys. 

Defensively, the Cowboys have given up the most rushing yards of any team this season (2,265).

The Cowboys need to eliminate any chances for Miles Sanders and Hurts to have success rushing the football.

The Cowboys have been better defending the pass this season (8th fewest passing yards allowed) than the run, so they should have more success if Hurts is forced to be a passer and not a rusher.

Prediction:

Eagles win 27-23, Eagles (-1.5), Over 49.5

Hurts has brought a new energy to the Eagles, and I like the spark that he gives the Eagles’ offense.

The Cowboys struggle at stopping the run, and the Eagles have two players – Hurts and Sanders – that can have good games rushing the ball.

While the Cowboys have receivers that are playing well, the Eagles’ defense is more equipped to stop receivers than rushers. I think the Eagles’ defense will do enough to keep the Cowboys’ offense in check.

This is one of the most bitter rivalries in all of sports, so I expect this game to be close until the end, but I just think the spark Hurts has provided the Eagles with will be the deciding factor. 

I like the Eagles to win this game and cover the spread. I think both teams will struggle at times offensively, but they will do just enough to go over 49.5 combined points. 

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