Eagles travel to Dallas for rookie showdown
Looking at the NFL’s Week 8 schedule, it looks like it could be another boring week in the NFL starting with Thursday night’s electrifying matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans (sigh). On Sunday, it doesn’t seem like it will get much better fast — it’s actually difficult to get excited about any of the 1 p.m. games, and the third London game between the Bengals and Redskins will likely keep us asleep. But starting at 4 p.m., the Sunday slate actually looks promising; the Packers travel to Atlanta, and the Chargers and Broncos will battle in an important AFC West matchup. The real game, though, is of course on primetime, when the Dallas Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
This is by far the best game of the week, and it’s really important for the NFL considering the decrease in primetime ratings. All eyes will be on rookie quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, and that storyline is certainly exciting, but this game is going to be won in the trenches.
The Eagles defense caused havoc against the 5-0 Minnesota Vikings; Sam Bradford was sacked six times, hit another 12 times, and lost two of his four fumbles. The lack of protection for Bradford is why the Vikings suffered their first loss.
On Sunday night, the Eagles will face a far superior offensive line, a more mobile quarterback, and the best running game in the entire league. On the contrary, Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz will see a more favorable matchup. He struggled against an elite Vikings defense, but on Sunday, he’ll have more time to throw and likely won’t be under pressure like he was Sunday.
The interesting aspect, for me, is how the red-hot Cowboys respond coming off a bye. The Eagles started the season 3-0, had their bye week, and came back to lose to Detroit. The Vikings just lost to the Eagles Sunday after starting 5-0 and coming off a bye. The Cowboys, now winners of five straight, are coming off a bye, too. I’m interested to see if that trend continues; bye weeks for the Eagles and Vikings disrupted their mojo, will it disrupt Dallas’?
About that storyline…
Both Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz have created a major buzz this season, one that may be saving the NFL from having a completely boring year.
Prescott: 5-1, 10 total touchdowns, three turnovers, 1,553 total yards, 125-of-182 passing, 103.9 QB rating
Wentz: 4-2, nine total touchdowns, four turnovers, 1,367 total yards, 118-of-185 passing, 92.7 rating.
While Prescott may present some sexier numbers, I’m of the opinion that Wentz is the better long-term prospect. There’s a reason he was drafted #2 overall and Prescott went in the fourth round, but no one could have predicted the success the rookie in Dallas has had thus far. But the fact of the matter is that Dallas has made things easy for Dak; he plays behind the best offensive line in football, and has the luxury of defenses worrying about the best running game in the league.
It’s not all that easy for Wentz. Since Eagles RT Lane Johnson was suspended, the pressure has gotten to him. He doesn’t have nearly the same running game as Dak does, nor the protection. Furthermore, the Eagles receiving core is unreliable and inconsistent. The Eagles may have the better QB for the long term, but Dak is in a better place to succeed right now.
It’s not saying much, but this is the most important game of both of their young careers. Prescott is trying to keep his job from Romo, and it’s going to be hard for Dallas to replace him without losing another game; Wentz has shown some struggles lately, but this is a good opportunity for him to win his first “big” division game to put the Eagles atop of the NFC East.
Ohhhhh Sunday night. It should be fun.