Eagles host Cowboys in Week 8 with NFC East lead on the line

Miles Sanders Eagles
If he’s good to go Sunday, Miles Sanders could have a huge day against the Cowboys.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, it feels like no team really wants to win the NFC East, but something will have to give on Sunday night.

The first-place Philadelphia Eagles at 2-4-1 host the second-place, 2-5 Dallas Cowboys in primetime Week 8 action with the NFC (L)East lead on the line.

It appears the NFL didn’t want to flex any sort of more entertaining game into its primetime spot, because there likely will be many more enthralling contests than what is expected to be seen at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

The Cowboys have been shellacked over their last two weeks without Dak Prescott, who suffered a gruesome, season-ending injury in their victory over the New York Giants. With Andy Dalton at the helm, they were blown out in Week 6 by the Arizona Cardinals before getting thrashed by the Washington Football Team.

Even more concerning was that Dalton was knocked out of Week 7 action by a dirty hit form Washington linebacker Jonathan Bostic, forcing the team to turn to third-stringer, Ben DiNucci, who was drafted in the seventh round this season out of James Madison.

DiNucci’s last start came in the FCS Championship Game with JMU and he saw his first in-game action since then last week against Washington when he completed 2-of-3 passes for 39 yards but was sacked three times.

Given the uncertainty of what the rookie will bring to Dallas’ table, expect a lot of Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday night as the Cowboys star running back must shoulder the load to keep his team in playoff contention.

Considering the Cowboys were playing from behind during much of the last two weeks, Elliott is relatively fresh entering Week 8 against Philadelphia. He’s had just 12 rush attempts in each of his last two games with a total of 33 touches.

He’s yet to have a 100-yard rushing game this season, yet he still ranks ninth in the league with 458 rushing yards gained in 2020.

The Eagles’ defense against the run certainly needs a shot in the arm after allowing the Giants — one of the league’s worst rushing teams — to pick up 160 yards on the ground. However, 80 of them came on Daniel Jones’ dubious keeper that ended with him tripping over his own two feet just eight yards away from the end zone.

Regardless, this is a game the Eagles should be able to pull out with little issue given how shorthanded the Cowboys are through injuries and trades.

Carson Wentz, who has continued to battle inconsistencies, needs to be more of a game manager than anything on Sunday night and just limit his mistakes because he’ll be lining up against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. There is no reason to be needlessly giving bad teams the opportunity to seize momentum, which has happened numerous times already this year.

Entering Week 8, Dallas’ defense has allowed the most points and the fifth-most total yards in the NFL this season. While they’ve been hit for 16 passing touchdowns, tied for fourth-most in the league, their run defense has been horrendous, allowing a league-worst 1,248 yards on the ground.

Luckily for the Eagles, they could see No. 1 running back Miles Sanders return to the fold after dealing with a knee issue.

When he’s been available, Sanders has been a revelation in the Eagles’ backfield, putting up at least 80 yards in four of his five appearances. He’s posting 6.1 yards per carry, too, creating the promise of a huge day against the Cowboys if he is good to go.

Philadelphia could also get offensive lineman Lane Johnson (knee), wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf), and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (quad) back, too.