The Dallas Cowboys (11-5) head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles (9-7) to close out the regular season on Saturday night. With the Cowboys losing last week against the Cardinals, this game is almost meaningless. The Cowboys seem destined for the four seed in the NFC playoffs.
With the Cowboys and Eagles matchup unlikely to impact playoff seeding, the feel of this divisional rivalry game isn’t as electric as it usually is. It feels like a glorified preseason game.
Mike McCarthy did say that the starters are likely to play. So that begs the question, how much will they play?
It seems very unlikely and would be foolish to play the starters all 60 minutes. There, of course, is something to be said about keeping the players fresh and ending the season on a good note, especially after the disaster of a performance last week.
The Cowboys’ offense could also use a tune-up, but how much would a quarter or half of football for Dak Prescott and crew help. The offensive woes for the better part of half a season seem unlikely to be fixed in a meaningless week 18 game.
Especially after the loss of Michael Gallup to a season-ending injury last week, it seems the coaching staff should lean towards being cautious. The starters playing time will be something to keep an eye on.
Over the last few days, it has been learned that several key Cowboys players will be missing the game because of COVID-19. This list includes Micah Parsons, Tyron Smith, and Anthony Brown.
While this is an unfortunate situation to deal with, it will give Cowboys staff and fans an extended look at rookie cornerback Kelvin Joseph. This is perhaps the most exciting aspect of the game to monitor. Fans have been clamoring for Joseph all year, and the likely extended playing time for Joseph can only be a good thing for Dallas going forward.
Fellow rookie Nahshon Wright may find his way onto the field quite a bit this Saturday as well. Wright was a preseason standout.
The Cowboys’ defense could look to get back on track as well, as they had a somewhat disappointing effort last week as they notched only one sack and zero turnovers.
It may be a positive thing to be going up against a mobile quarterback in Jalen Hurts, as a rematch against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in the NFC Wild Card round is a very real possibility.
Ultimately, this week will serve as a tune-up in several areas to get ready for a playoff run. The most important thing, though, is getting out of this game without any more injuries.