Eagles vs Cowboys Week 16 Picks and Predictions: Philly Won't Go Down Without Fight

Philadelphia has just one loss on the season, but now it must find a way to win without its MVP-candidate QB. However, with Dallas also missing key pieces, and Gardner Minshew being capable, our NFL betting picks believe the Eagles can fight.

Last Updated: Dec 24, 2022 8:25 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Gardner Minshew Philadelphia Eagles NFL
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The Philadelphia Eagles will try to clinch the NFC East when they visit the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Saturday.

Philadelphia is 13-1 on the season, but will face Dallas without quarterback Jalen Hurts, who suffered a sprained right throwing shoulder last week. 

That means it’s up to backup Gardner Minshew to lead Philadelphia to victory on Saturday. We’ll break down whether he can get the job done in our NFL betting picks and predictions for the Eagles vs. Cowboys on Christmas Eve.

Eagles vs Cowboys best odds

Eagles vs Cowboys picks and predictions

The Eagles are flying high this year, and are just one win away from clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC. However, they’ve done so behind Hurts, who has been putting together an MVP-caliber season.

Hurts has thrown for 3,472 yards and 22 passing touchdowns. He’s also complimented that production with 747 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground to make him one of the most dynamic weapons in the NFL.

In other words, the Eagles will be a very different team without Hurts on the field. But Philadelphia is far better equipped than most teams to survive thanks to an unusually strong backup quarterback in Gardner Minshew.

While Minshew has never been a star by any means, he has been a productive quarterback when given the chance to start. Appearing in 30 games — mostly during his first two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars — Minshew has thrown 41 touchdown passes against only 12 interceptions.

Those are solid numbers that many teams would at least accept from their starter, even if he’s never been counted among the most dangerous or explosive quarterbacks in the league.

Minshew started the season finale against the Cowboys last season, a 56-21 Dallas win. It’s hard to blame Minshew for that loss, though. He went 19-for-33 with 186 yards passing and two touchdowns while throwing a single interception, another solid performance in a game there was little he could have done to win it.

That won’t be the situation on Saturday. Philadelphia is a well-rounded team, and is more than capable of winning without Hurts in the lineup. 

The Eagles are one of the best defensive teams in the league, allowing just 19.1 points per game and giving up a league-low 5.3 yards per passing attempt. Running back Miles Sanders has run for 1,110 yards and will make sure Minshew doesn’t have to do too much. Even if Philly does have to go to the passing game, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith give Minshew weapons he’ll be more than capable of targeting.

Dallas is also down a couple of key players on defense. Micah Parsons missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday while dealing with an illness. Leading tackler Leighton Vander Esch will alos miss the game with a shoulder injury.

The Eagles are too good to be getting this many points just because they’ve lost Hurts for the week, especially with a competent backup ready to take over. I’m not confident enough to take Philadelphia outright, but let’s back the Eagles with the generous spread.

My best bet: Eagles +5.5 (-118 at FanDuel)

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Eagles vs Cowboys spread analysis

Dallas opened Saturday’s game as a two-point favorite. That number grew a lot bigger once it was confirmed that Hurts wouldn’t be playing, and you can now find Cowboys -5 as the main line at most books, with -5.5 also available from a couple of sites at the time of writing.

I’ve already talked about why Minshew is not as big a downgrade for the Eagles as most backup quarterbacks might be. Just as importantly, Philadelphia is not dependent on him to carry the load and might have planned to focus on the running game even if Hurts was playing.

Dallas isn’t awful against the run, but the Cowboys do allow 4.6 yards per carry, ranking 22nd in the NFL in that category. Sanders should be able to take advantage of that, especially with Dallas suffering from a series of front-seven injuries at the moment.

Along with Parsons and Vander Esch, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is also questionable for Saturday with a foot injury that has limited him in practice.

While the Hurts injury is a huge factor in this game, if anything, bettors are putting too much emphasis on it. There are also critical injury issues on the Dallas defense, and the Eagles have other weapons they can deploy for Saturday’s game. I’m happy to take Philadelphia and the points.

Eagles vs Cowboys Over/Under analysis

The Over/Under for this game opened at 50.5. However, that number has fallen on the news of Hurts’ injury, and the consensus total for Saturday’s game is now at just 46.5 points.

Both of these teams score a lot of points, but play excellent defense as well. In that battle, defense often wins out — at least to some extent — and that’s what played out in their first meeting back in October. The Eagles won that matchup in Philadelphia by a 26-17 final, playing to a total of just 43 points.

There have been some cracks in both defenses in recent weeks. Dallas is coming off a stunning loss to the Jaguars, blowing a 17-point lead before losing 40-34. The Eagles have kept winning, but have played to totals of 70 or higher in two of the last four weeks.

I’m not convinced that these short-term trends are giving us any useful information for Saturday’s game. If this game plays out anything like the first encounter between these two teams, then the Under will still be the smart play. 

Other than a brief period in the second quarter, Dallas was able to keep the Eagles' offense largely in check and will have an easier time repeating that performance without Hurts in the lineup. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s defense has only allowed over 21 points four times this year, and will be keyed up for an important divisional matchup. Let’s stick with the Under even with the falling total.

Eagles vs Cowboys betting trend to know

The Eagles are 5-0 against the spread against teams with winning records. Find more NFL betting trends for Eagles vs. Cowboys.

Eagles vs Cowboys game info

Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Date: Saturday, December 24, 2022
Kickoff: 5:25 p.m. ET
Opening odds: Cowboys -1, 50 O/U

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