Two rookie quarterbacks took the league by storm last season and the hype has only grown since. Dak Prescott versus Carson Wentz remains the popular storyline for the highly anticipated divisional matchup between the Cowboys and Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
Rather than defending the elite play of former quarterback Tony Romo, Cowboys fans are now in a constant debate on who’s the better player between Prescott and Wentz.
However, it’s their supporting cast (or lack thereof) that will be the deciding factor in this matchup. It’s no secret that Dallas will be without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but more importantly they’ll be hosting their Philadelphia rival without do-it-all linebacker Sean Lee. As the season progresses, it becomes more prominent that linebacker Jaylon Smith just isn’t ready to be on the field in a major role yet. If you couple Smith’s issues with Lee’s inability to stay healthy, there’s slim pickings for head coach Jason Garrett’s next man up philosophy.
It’s also highly possible that left tackle Tyron Smith, one of the league’s top offensive linemen, will be on the sidelines this contest due to a lingering groin injury. With Smith absent last week against the Falcons, the Cowboys surrendered eight total sacks. The majority of these sacks were due to the underwhelming play of Smith’s backups Chaz Green and Byron Bell. Smith’s status remains uncertain heading into Week 11, although early reports are beginning to indicate that he will not play.
A person with knowledge of the situation tells me Cowboys LT Tyron Smith will not play Sunday (groin). Byron Bell will start instead.
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) November 16, 2017
Don’t forget that kickers are people, too. The Cowboys have been without the league’s most accurate kicker, Dan Bailey, since Week 7 due to a groin injury. The difference has already begun to impact games, where replacement Mike Nugent has missed two field goals. Where Bailey was seemingly the most clutch with field goals of 40+ yards or more is where Nugent struggles.
At this rate, you’d have to give the advantage to the Eagles. With the Cowboys current roster, these injuries have been too big to overcome in the past and that seems unlikely to change in the near future. Luckily for Dallas, they could potentially be at full strength to fight for revenge when they travel to Philadelphia the final week of the season.
Dallas has not fared well against high-scoring offenses recently, and Carson Wentz leads the league’s No. 2 scoring unit.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Cowboys 21