This is a very tough game to handicap since we are essentially guessing who is going to play for each team and for how long. You also have the added factor of both dealing with COVID, throwing another wrench into the equation.
The Eagles had 12 players who either started or contributed on the COVID list this week, including defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, center Jason Kelce, tight ends Dallas Goedert and Jack Stoll, running backs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott, safeties Rodney McLeod and Marcus Epps, linebackers Genard Avery and Alex Singleton, cornerback Avonte Maddox and guard Nate Herbig. My assumption is none of those players will give it a go in a fairly meaningless game.
So, how about the other starters? Well, Hurts and DeVonta Smith have indicated they would like to play, but the tea leaves suggest head coach Nick Sirianni will sit everyone who is important. Again, there’s no way to know for sure, but that’s my best guess.
The opposite may hold true for the Cowboys — although they are also dealing with COVID, which will keep three starters out of the lineup (Micah Parsons, Tyron Smith, Anthony Brown). However, McCarthy came out and said he’ll play his starters in an attempt to win this game.
I can see that for a few reasons:
Dallas wants to gain some momentum after last week’s loss.
It wants to get its offense going after sputtering late in the season.
McCarthy rested his starters in Green Bay in 2011, which backfired. That could create bias.
The Cowboys rested starters in the final week of the 2017 regular season (Prescott’s rookie year) and then lost their first playoff game.
Therefore, my best guess is the Cowboys at least play their starters in the first half. I could see them easily pulling guys in the second half, especially if they build a big lead.
It’s hard to say who will play for the Eagles, but they do have a very capable backup quarterback in Gardner Minshew. He should be able to make some things happen against a Cowboys defense that will be without two starting cornerbacks and Parsons. Meanwhile, I’d imagine Prescott and Co. should move the ball with relative ease if the Eagles decide to sit their starters.
I would make this game closer to a pick’em if both teams were at full strength. However, given all of the circumstances, I have adjusted Dallas up based on who I think will play for both sides.
I bet the Cowboys to cover the first half and would up to -3. I also dabbled on the over, which I’d play up to 44. That said, given all of the uncertainty, I wouldn’t recommend betting anything big in this particular game.
Pick: Over 43 | Bet to: 43
Pick: Cowboys 1H -2.5 | Bet to: -3