JASON WHITLOCK: Cowherd, do you believe the Cowboys can catch the Eagles?
COLIN COWHERD: Yeah, I mean, Carson Wentz could get hurt. It's pro football. Jason Peters got hurt. What if Lane Johnson gets hurt?
JASON WHITLOCK: You don't even have to go any further. Jason Peters has gotten hurt, that's why I think the Cowboys can catch them.
COLIN COWHERD: I would say this, I don't think they will, but I will say this-- it doesn't happen very often-- but we are, for the only time in a long time, under-rating the Cowboys. I actually think they're a really good football team. In fact, there's a Las Vegas poll, PreGame.com has a Vegas poll, it's a power poll. And I trust it more than AP, USA Today. They have Dallas fifth. Dallas is a real football team. Lead the NFL in rushing, they were very clunky to start, they had injuries on the O-line. But I watched Dallas last week and that defensive line, and I'm like, this is a really good foot--
If, Eric, if you were back in the league and you had Dallas you would say, I have a pass rush? They do. I have a great o-line, I have a Hall of Fame tight end, I have a promising young quarterback, I have a running back that's a star. And by the way, when Sean Lee's the field, my front seven's fantastic statistically. Dallas is going to win 10 games.
JASON WHITLOCK: I 1,000% agree with you, but the reason why the question is phrased this way is because I think that Eagles Jason Peters injury is going to make them vulnerable. I agree with you 1,000% the Cowboys are an ascending team. I think they're going to beat up a Redskins beat-up offensive line and take out Kirk Cousins. And, yeah, I expect the Cowboys to be right in the thick of this and probably win the NFC East.
ERIC MANGINI: What I don't know right now is what Carson Wentz is going to do. So last year, at the start of the season, he started off on fire, and the Eagles started off on fire. And then they finished the end of the season, and it was constantly declining. So the big question I have with them is, are we going to get the Carson Wentz that we're getting now through the course of the whole 16 games? Or is there going to be another dip that happens?
- Can I help you answer that?
ERIC MANGINI: OK.
- Well, last year Carson Wentz was a rookie, we understand. But the weapons around him, top of the league at dropped balls at their receiver positions. They went in and they addressed that. They brought in receivers. They also went in and got LeGarrette Blount, who walked in the door with 18 touchdowns, a guy now that gives you that balance up front, which opens up the play action game. So now, all the big explosive plays we're seeing down the field to Agholor and some of these receivers, it's based on the play action.
Now, the other thing is is Wentz's confidence. He's in the pocket, he's moving. Not just to run, like we saw Flacco, he's moving to throw the ball. So now he's keeping his eyes down the field, receivers are finishing routes, and they're catching the ball. So when you look at the Eagles on offense on third down, they're the best. Running the football versus play action, they're one of the best.
ERIC MANGINI: Time of possession?
- Time of possession, completion percentage, all those things. He took a step up. He's developing as a quarterback, and Doug Peterson has also put in a gameplan that fits his skill set. So he's a mobile guy, they use that. So now you've got to count for him in certain situations. So when I look at the Eagles, they're a different team offensively. They're more explosive, and they can run the football effectively, which changes the game. And they have a defense. They have a defense now. They got rid of both of their corners, they take the football away, they got to ballhawking safties, and they've got a front seven that's better than any front seven in the league.
So this is a complete team, and they're playing complimentary football. Can Dallas catch them? I don't think so. I don't think so. We'll find out, because they play twice. In Week 17, they'll end the season and we'll see.
JASON WHITLOCK: You don't see losing Jason Peters as a game changer?
- I think that's huge, but I think this team has enough talent to overcome that. We've seen teams win Super Bowls and losing some of their best players, ie., Gronk, right? ie., Jamie Collins, get rid of him, he's not there.
ERIC MANGINI: But that's one very specific team--
- I get it.
ERIC MANGINI: --that knows how to deal with that.
- I get it, but here's the other thing is, let's just move Lane Johnson to the left tackle. That's what they're talking about doing now. He's more than capable. Is this team built on one player? When you look at the Philadelphia Eagles--
COLIN COWHERD: Last year it was more.
- No, I'm saying Philadelphia now. Are they built on one player?
COLIN COWHERD: No, not now.
JASON WHITLOCK: I like Lane Jansen at left tackle. You taught him well. That was very impressive. Good job, Eric.