Week 16 NFL: Previewing the Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys matchup

December 20, 2022 05:53 PM

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

What is Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts worth to the point spread? The answer: 4.5 points. That’s the answer for now, at least, with Hurts expected to miss the game at Dallas with a sprained right shoulder.

When the news broke Monday, the Cowboys moved from -1.5 to -6. The value of the starting quarterback is always related to the quality of the backup, and Philadelphia’s fate seems to be in decent hands with Gardner Minshew. The Eagles (13-1) need one win in their final three games to lock up the top seed in the NFC, so they can afford to rest Hurts and not risk his health by forcing him into action.

Minshew has played in three games and attempted only four passes this season, but when Hurts was injured last December, Minshew started against the Jets and completed 20 of 25 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-18 win. The strong supporting cast that helped make Hurts the MVP favorite will also work in Minshew’s favor. The offensive line is elite and the Eagles have plenty of playmakers at the skill positions — plus, tight end Dallas Goedert was activated from injured reserve and might play.

Dallas (10-4) also has concerns with its quarterback. Dak Prescott has not been sharp, throwing 11 interceptions in nine games. Prescott was picked off twice in a 40-34 overtime loss at Jacksonville, where the Cowboys squandered a 17-point third-quarter lead. The Dallas defense has been dominant at times and ranks first in takeaways (26), second against the pass (191.6 yards per game) and second in sacks (49). However, the defense broke down and allowed the Jaguars to pile up 503 total yards, including 192 yards and 7.1 per carry on the ground. The Philadelphia defense ranks No. 1 in sacks (55) and interceptions (15).

This would be a huge game in the NFC East race had the Cowboys not lost in Week 15, and it’s still a bigger game for Dallas. Still, it’s fair to wonder if the line adjustment is a little bit of an overreaction. Minshew does not have to play the hero role, and he’s prepared for this stage with 22 starts in his career. Prescott and the Cowboys have been sloppy the past two weeks, so it’s tempting to take the inflated number with Philadelphia. 

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