When the Cowboys (2-5) travel to play the Eagles (2-4-1) in Philadelphia in the penultimate game of NFL Week 8 on “Sunday Night Football” (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC), they will be trying to get back into first place in the weak NFC East. The Cowboys gave up that position in losing at Washington last week, while the Eagles were able to edge the Giants to move into the top spot.
Dallas is set to start rookie seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci at quarterback. DiNucci has to fill in for Andy Dalton (concussion), who had to become the starter after the season-ending ankle injury to Dak Prescott. Philadelphia has seen Carson Wentz play better at QB of late and is managing injuries well while also getting healthier in some areas.
Here’s everything to know about betting on Cowboys vs. Eagles in Week 8, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for “Sunday Night Football.”
Cowboys vs. Eagles odds for ‘Sunday Night Football’
The spread has ballooned from around a field goal with the initial line to double digits with the news that Dalton would not be playing. The Cowboys have lost badly in consecutive games to Arizona and Washington with Dalton. The Eagles are coming off a one-point win as less-than-touchdown home favorites against the Giants.
Cowboys vs. Eagles all-time series
The Cowboys lead 69-53 in a rivalry that goes back to 1960. The Eagles won last December, 17-9, to take the NFC East. That ended a four-game winning streak by the Cowboys. Before that, the Eagles had won three of four. Three of the past nine meetings have gone into overtime.
Three trends to know
— 57 percent of spread bettors like the Eagles to take care of the big number with the Cowboys looking listless around the quarterback.
— 62 percent of over/under bettors like the total to go over more because of the Eagles’ offense exploiting the bad Cowboys defense.
— The Cowboys are a historically bad 0-7 against the spread to start the season. But keep in mind the Eagles are not much better, 2-5 against the spread.
Three things to watch
DiNucci the newbie
DiNucci got a little bit of playing time when Dalton went down in Washington and the previous week in mopup duty against Arizona. But now he has the reins of the offense and has a big opportunity to make an impression and spark his teammates, like undrafted Tony Romo once did. The key for DiNucci will be showing the confidence in throwing the ball downfield to the Cowboys’ trio of talented wide receivers to help open things up for Ezekiel Elliott and the running game.
Wentz and his weapons
Wentz has locked into Travis Fulgham as his new go-to wide receiver and also has liked Richard Rodgers as the top fill-in tight end with ankle injuries keeping Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert out of the lineup. Wentz also will get rookie first-round Jalen Reagor back as his speedy deep threat, just in time to replace DeSean Jackson. Don’t forget about running back Boston Scott, who was huge down the stretch last season and had a big scoring catch to beat the Giants last week. Scott will get plenty of touches again with Miles Sanders (knee) missing another game.
Will the Cowboys show up and show some fight?
The Cowboys have been going through the motions since Prescott went down. They are missing how well he led and rallied the team, and no one has stepped up in his absence on either side of the ball. They should be more motivated against the Eagles, but it’s not enough if only a few players feel that way. Coach Mike McCarthy needs a better effort from his team or will be in further danger of losing his job in his first season.
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Stat that matters
2.9 vs. 3.4. The first number is how many sacks per game on average the injury-riddled Cowboys offensive line is giving up. The second number is how many sacks on average the Eagles are getting per game, tied for No. 4 in the league based on their strong front four anchored by ends Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham and tackle Fletcher Cox.
DiNucci will need to handle that pressure well in his first start and will see many different looks from Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. That can keep him from making some big plays in the passing game and hoping for good work after the catch on short-to-intermediate routes.
Cowboys vs. Eagles prediction
The Cowboys in a tough spot. The Eagles are well rested from playing Thursday night in Week 7. While DiNucci might help Dallas a bit with his youthful energy, this is a tough road matchup for any rookie to make his first start as he will be under constant duress. The Eagles also will keep the Cowboys in obvious passing situations with their strong run defense against Elliott. On the other side, the Eagles will like their passing game matchups all across the board for Wentz all over the field.
Eagles 27, Cowboys 14
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