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Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Prediction, preview, pick to win

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The Sports Xchange
A Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader performs during a time out at the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles game on November 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI
A Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader performs during a time out at the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles game on November 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

DALLAS COWBOYS (8-7) AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (13-2)

GAME SNAPSHOT

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KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Lincoln Financial Field. TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 114th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 62-51. The Eagles have won three of the past four games, including a 37-9 victory in Dallas in Week 11. The Eagles intercepted Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott three times in that game. Running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 91 yards on just seven carries.

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KEYS TO THE GAME: A year ago, the Eagles and Cowboys faced each other in Week 17. The Eagles were 6-9 and out of playoff contention. The 13-2 Cowboys already had locked up the NFC's No. 1 seed.

This time, the roles are reversed. The 8-7 Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention last week when they lost to the Seattle Seahawks, while the 13-2 Eagles already own the No. 1 NFC playoff seed.

Still to be determined is whether the Eagles will do what the Cowboys did last year and rest many of their starters.

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Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz likely will limit the playing time of many of his key players, including defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan and safety Malcolm Jenkins, as well as other starters who aren't completely healthy, such as defensive end Brandon Graham (ankle) and cornerback Ronald Darby (foot).

But it could be a different story on the other side of the ball, where the offense is coming off an abysmal performance Monday night against the Oakland Raiders in which the Eagles managed just 216 yards, 12 first downs and one offensive touchdown against the league's 19th-ranked defense.

So, coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich need to decide whether getting Nick Foles some more work with his receiving corps is worth the risk of him getting hurt.

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Dallas likely will try to get the ball to Dez Bryant to try to end the season on a high note.

Ezekiel Elliott showed little rust last week, his first game back from a six-game suspension, and likely will get plenty of opportunities to pad his stats.

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MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott vs. Eagles MLB Dannell Ellerbe. Ellerbe, who was signed by the Eagles in mid-November, is expected to be the team's third linebacker in their base package. He played 27 snaps Monday night against Oakland.

--Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery vs. Cowboys CBs Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie. For just the second time in his career and the first time since his rookie year, Jeffery had no catches last week against the Raiders.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

DALLAS COWBOYS

--Out: DE David Irving (concussion), DE Benson Mayowa (back, illness)

--Questionable: DT Richard Ash (shoulder), WR Cole Beasley (illness), T La'el Collins (back), RB Rod Smith (back)

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

--Out: DE Brandon Graham (ankle), LB Joe Walker (neck)

--Questionable: CB Jalen Mills (ankle)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Eagles RB Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood has been inactive for seven of the last 10 games. But he likely will be the Eagles' primary ballcarrier in this game.

FAST FACTS: Dallas QB Dak Prescott has thrown eight touchdown passes and two interceptions and has run for four touchdowns in his past six road games. Since 2016, he leads NFL QBs with 12 rushing touchdowns. ... RB Ezekiel Elliott had 148 yards from scrimmage in his only career game against the Eagles. ... TE Jason Witten has 61 receptions and five touchdowns, his eighth career season with 60 catches and five touchdowns, tied for second most by a TE in NFL history. ... DE Demarcus Lawrence is tied for second in the NFL with a career-high 14.5 sacks. ... LB Sean Lee aims for a fourth straight game with 10-plus tackles. ... Rookie DE Taco Charlton had a sack last week. ... The Eagles have clinched the NFC East and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. ... QB Nick Foles has thrown five touchdown passes and one interception in his past two games. ... RB Jay Ajayi last week had his first career receiving touchdown. ... RB LeGarrette Blount is one of two NFL players (along with Elliott) with 20 rushing touchdowns since 2016. ... TE Zach Ertz had 13 receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns in his last home game vs. Dallas. ... DE Brandon Graham has four sacks and a forced fumble in his past five games vs. NFC East teams. ... Rookie DE Derek Barnett had two sacks and a forced fumble in his only career game against the Cowboys.

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PREDICTION: Neither team has much to play for. The Eagles, having wrapped up the NFC's top seed, will hope to escape without injuries. The Cowboys have only pride on the line after being eliminated in Week 16. This looks like the reverse of last year's Week 17 matchup.

OUR PICK: Cowboys, 27-13.

--Ched Whitney

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