The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys have their playoff berths secure as both teams will be playing on Super Wild Card Weekend next week. Before Philadelphia and Dallas begin their Super Bowl hopes, the NFC East rivals square off in a game that only affects playoff seeding and matchups.
The Eagles can't finish any higher than the No. 6 seed in the NFC, which they'll accomplish with a win and San Francisco 49ers loss Sunday. There's no incentive for Philadelphia to play a good amount of the starters in Week 18, as Nick Sirianni hasn't decided whether the Eagles will play their top players.
Dallas cannot clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC, so the Cowboys will be playing for playoff seeding. The Cowboys already have a home playoff game secure by winning the NFC East and the highest they can elevate in the playoff standings is the No. 2 seed. There's a chance Dallas and Philadelphia could meet in the wild card round in the playoffs, so both teams could rest their starters -- although the Cowboys are more likely to play their starters than the Eagles.
Will Philadelphia snap its two-game skid to Dallas? Will the Cowboys play Dak Prescott and other starters? Here's a preview of Saturday's primetime showdown.
How to watch
Cowboys run offense vs. Eagles run defense
Dallas dominated Philadelphia on the ground in the Week 3 matchup, rushing for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries. Even though Ezekiel Elliott has struggled of late (he hasn't rushed for 60 yards since Week 6), the Cowboys still average 4.4 yards per carry (11th in NFL) and 122 yards per game (10th in league).
The Eagles run defense has significantly improved since the first meeting, specifically in the second half of the year. Since Week 8, the Eagles have allowed 81 rushing yards per game (No. 2 in NFL) and 3.7 yards per carry (fourth in NFL). The Eagles have allowed 0.7 yards before contact per rush since Week 8, the best in the NFL.
Facing Elliott and Tony Pollard will present an excellent challenge for the Eagles this week, a fine tuneup for the top rushing offenses they'll face in the playoffs.
Jalen Hurts vs. zone coverage
Hurts has been very good against man coverage this year in throwing the ball downfield, averaging 13.4 yards per completion (fourth in the NFL). The 7.72 yards per attempt is seventh in the league, yet Hurts has just a 90.5 passer rating against man coverage (17th in league).
The Cowboys lined up in zone coverage on 51% of their defensive snaps and in man coverage on 47% of defensive snaps in Week 3, disguising the defense for Hurts -- who was making just his seventh career start at the time. Dallas plays man coverage 37.9% of the time this season, so the Cowboys will likely go zone if Hurts does play. Hurts was sacked twice and intercepted twice in the first meeting.
Hurts completes just 63.4% of his passes vs. zone coverage, 30t in the NFL amongst 32 qualified quarterbacks.
The Cowboys aren't going to have Micah Parsons Saturday (reserve/COVID-19 list) as they're preparing for the postseason. How their defense plays without their best player will be something to watch, but Dallas has nothing to play for. Neither does Philadelphia this week, so the Eagles will likely rest a good amount of starters. Dallas plays well against the NFC East and is a better team than Philadelphia -- pound-for-pound. The outcome of this one doesn't matter, but I'll go with Dallas.
Cowboys 24, Eagles 20