Thanksgiving Day games have always been important contests for the Cowboys. Games with the Eagles are usually significant as well. And any game this late in the year between divisional leaders can be categorized as huge.
So add all three aspects together and of course you've got the game of the year on our hands. It should be a fun one Thursday when the Eagles and Cowboys meet at AT&T Stadium with sole possession of first place in the NFC East on the line.
Here are the first gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus and David Helman.
David Helman: I've come to realize something during the last week or two. It's the winnable games against mediocre teams where I doubt the Cowboys. In a nationally televised showdown against an 8-3 playoff contender, I'm much more confident they'll bring their A-game. Philadelphia has a great pass rush, but a lousy secondary – which is a fantastic matchup for a team with an All-Pro offensive line and a veteran quarterback. I think Dez Bryant will hurt the Eagles all day, and I think Romo will hit an unexpected target for another touchdown – I'll say Gavin Escobar shows up for the first time in five weeks. DeMarco Murray will have a solid day, but I think it's the passing game that will carry the team on Thanksgiving. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles are going to get plenty of yards and points. That said, Mark Sanchez has thrown six interceptions in four games this season, and the Eagles are -8 in turnover differential on the year. That's going to bite them, and it's going to help Dallas to a win – something like 38-34.
Bryan Broaddus: The stats say that the Philadelphia Eagles can put pressure on the quarterback. If you dig a little further you will see that a large number of those sacks are against opponents that have struggled at various times with their offensive line play – the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants games come to mind there. With the exception of the 49ers game, the Eagles have not faced an offensive line that can run block and protect as this one here in Dallas. This Eagles defense has had six games where they have had four or more sacks. My gut feeling is that this Cowboys offense does their job and they are able to hold this Eagles defense in check thus allowing just a single sack. As I said on Talkin' Cowboys, Dallas wins 35 – 31
Nick Eatman:Man, I'd like to but I just can't. If this is supposed to be a true gut feeling, then I don't know if I can pick the Cowboys. When it's all said and done Thursday night and we're writing our stories in the press box, my gut tells me the Cowboys won't be 9-3 and in first place of the NFC East. It's not that I can't see the Cowboys winning this game. In fact, the turnover-prone Eagles led by Mark Sanchez makes me think Dallas can win this game if they play its best. Maybe it's because the team is just 3-3 at home that causes me hesitation to pick them to win. Honestly, I can see the Cowboys beating Philly on the road more than I see them winning this game. Like most Thanksgiving games, it'll be a weird one. I predict both teams to have a double-digit lead at some point. In the end, I see Darren Sproles hurting the Cowboys, especially in the end. I see the Eagles winning the game around 37-31. And if I'm wrong, I'll expect more than a few 'I told you so" tweets that will be deserved.