Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is currently in the midst of a career-best run. Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a blowout 42-19 home loss at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.
These two stars will take center state on Sunday Night Football in Big D with a whole heck of a lot on the line. Dallas can even up the NFC East with a win over Philadelphia. If the Eagles go into Big D and come away with a win, they’ll have a two-game lead and hold the tiebreaker via a season sweep of Dallas.
As we’ve seen throughout the modern NFL, it’s going to be about quarterback play. Whoever performs better in this huge rivalry game will have the upper-hand when it comes to leading his team to a victory.
It was back in Week 9 that Dallas fell to the Eagles in Philadelphia. Late-game mistake after late-game mistake from the ‘Boys led to a 28-23 defeat in a game that they should have won. Prescott and Co. need to rectify this.
As for the Eagles, they have not been playing their best football as of late. Last week’s blowout loss to San Francisco magnified this. With Philadelphia’s defense struggling, Hurts will have to step up on the other side of the ball. Below, we preview this game by looking at these two top-end NFL MVP candidates.
Jalen Hurts vs Dak Prescott by the numbers
Prescott is right up there with Brock Purdy in playing the best football of any quarterback in the NFL. Since Dallas’ loss to San Francisco back on Oct. 8, Prescott has compiled 23 total touchdowns compared to two interceptions in seven starts. It’s not a coincidence that the Cowboys are 6-1 during that span and averaging 36.3 points per game.
Hurts and his Eagles have not been as unstoppable in recent weeks. Over his past seven starts, Hurts has tallied 21 total touchdowns. But he’s also turned the ball over nine times during that span. Overall, the numbers are pretty similar this season.
As you can see, Prescott has done more damage through the air while Hurts continues to do his thing on the ground.
But it’s all in the advanced stats. Prescott is averaging 6.6 air yards per completion with 58% of his total passing yards coming via that metric. As for Hurts, he’s averaging 6.3 per with a 56% rate coming through the air. Both quarterbacks are among the league leaders in this category, which means that they have no problem throwing deep.
Jalen Hurts vs Dak Prescott: Against good teams
It has been somewhat of a knock on the Cowboys thus far this season. They have only defeated one team all season that headed into the game with a winning record. That came via an ugly 41-35 victory over a now-.500 Seattle Seahawks squad back in Week 13.
The Cowboys find themselves at 0-2 against teams currently in playoff positioning. Including the loss to Philadelphia, Dallas was blown out by the aforementioned 49ers by the score of 42-10.
More to this point. Dallas ongoing four-game winning streak has seen the team defeat opponents with a combined 15-34 record. Sure, they have defeated their opponents by a combined margin of 96 points during this four-game winning streak. But we do have to look at who the ‘Boys have gone up against.
Prior to falling to San Francisco last week, Philadelphia won consecutive games against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. They are now 4-1 against teams who would earn a spot in the playoffs if the season ended today.
Overall, Philadelphia’s strength of schedule stands at .493 with a strength of victory of .484. Dallas has a strength of schedule at .397 with an ugly strength of victory at .330. Both numbers are, by far, the worst of any team currently in playoff positioning in either conference.
Who has the better supporting cast?
The star power will be out in Philadelphia come Sunday night. Both teams have skill-position talent that can absolutely dominate. Both quarterbacks have done well targeting their top skill-position players with great success.
It starts at wide receiver.
Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown has caught 81 passes for 1,164 yards with seven touchdowns through 12 games. Hurts is completing 68.6% of his passes with a 109.6 QB rating when targeting Brown this season. He’s been picked off three times.
On the other side, CeeDee Lamb is in the midst of one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in Cowboys history. He’s hauled in 90 passes for 1,182 yards and seven touchdowns. Prescott boasts a 74.4% completion and 124.1 QB rating when targeting Lamb. He’s also has not been picked off a single time on 121 passes thrown in Lamb’s direction.
It’s close, but Prescott actually seems to have the upper-hand when it comes to a connection with his top wide receiver. That doesn’t take anything away from the Hurts-to-Brown connection. It’s also one of the best in the game.
Where Philadelphia has the edge is when it comes to the other wide receiver spot. DeVonta Smith has caught 64 passes for 834 yards with six touchdowns. Hurts boasts a 111.9 QB rating when targeting him. For Dallas, Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup have alternated when it comes to being Prescott’s No. 2 wide receiver target. Neither has as many as 40 receptions or 500 yards on the season.
Dallas heads into this Week 14 matchup with the 11th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL while Philadelphia sits at eight. Though, it must be noted that Hurts accounts for 28% of the Eagles’ rushing yards compared to 12% for Prescott. That’s why it’s so important for Dallas’ defense to contain Hurts on the ground.
Dak Prescott with slight advantage over Jalen Hurts
We’ll give Prescott the slight advantage here based primarily on recency bias. As noted above, he’s playing the best football of his career. That’s been magnified at home with the quarterback having accounted for 18 passing touchdowns with two interceptions for a 126.8 QB rating in six home starts on the season. Hurts has thrown eight touchdowns with seven interceptions for an 85.4 QB rating on the road.
With Dallas absolutely dominating at home this season, Prescott should be able to outplay Hurts . It will even up the season series at one and make it a race in the NFC East heading down the stretch.