NFL 2018 Season - Week 14
 

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Rivalry Renewed
by Dennis Ranahan

The Philadelphia Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys tonight in a longtime rivalry that goes back before the American and National Football League’s merged in 1970. In defense of their Super Bowl Championship, the Eagles are now at full strength with Carson Wentz back in control of an offense that has added talented widereceiver Golden Tate.

The Cowboys also added a talented wideout with the addition of Amari Cooper, who they acquired from the Oakland Raiders for a first round draft choice a couple weeks ago. The skill position players on Dallas are talented, but the effectiveness of quarterback Dak Prescott and runningback Ezekiel Elliott are mooted by an offensive line that is a swinging gate for defenders.

That is something new in Dallas, offensive line problems. But, based on injuries and medical situations that have forced their best lineman out of the game, Dallas is forced to rely on their defense to get the job done.

While it is not a bad unit, it is not on the par with teams of the past that were able to win on defense alone. Squads like the 1990 New York Giants or 2000 Baltimore Ravens. What that leaves Dallas with is a suspect offense in the trenches and a defense not good enough to fully compensate for their liabilities.

The Eagles problems this season have been based first on the delayed return of Wentz to his starting role and the inherent problems a team has off a Super Bowl season. The Eagles were only the fourth team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl the season after compiling a losing record.

The other three, the 1982 San Francisco 49ers, 2000 St. Louis Rams and 2002 New England Patriots, failed to win a postseason game in defense of their Super Bowl win. Only the Rams of that trio of teams was even good enough to advance to the postseason, where they lost a Wild Card Game on the road against the New Orleans Saints.

The story in Philadelphia may be different. They have the motivation of winning with Wentz, who was injured last December and missed the season’s stretch drive and improbable Super Bowl run behind backup Nick Foles.

Now, with Wentz playing back to the form he showed last year before his injury, and the Eagles playing out of an NFC East Division without a clear dominate team, perhaps they will be the first team to win a Super Bowl after a losing year and go on to win their division the following season.

While the Eagles are but 3 and 5 against the point spread this season and 4 and 4 straight up, they look to bounce off their bye week with a home tonight against the team they most like to beat.

What that leaves us with in this matchup is a suspect Dallas team based on talent and a suspect Eagles team based on motivation. With the Redskins winning earlier today the Eagles need a win tonight to stay within a game of the division leaders.

While the Cowboys need a win to remain in the hunt.

The home team is in a likely spot to win, but the bloated point spread simply eliminates this game for a wager consideration.