- The Cowboys will start Ben DiNucci at quarterback, a rookie seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft.
The Cowboys are a mess. Their defense can’t stop anybody, but for a time their offense was good enough to stay in games with Dak Prescott performing at a high level. That time is gone, and with backup Andy Dalton doubtful after a concussion in Week 7, they turn to James Madison alum and third-stringer Ben DiNucci in a divisional contest that (barring a tie) will force one NFC East team to finally reach three wins.
DiNucci was a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft, so he’ll make his first NFL start after no preseason work. He did get three pass attempts off last week after taking over for Dalton, but also took three sacks. Dallas will welcome back Zack Martin, one of the best offensive guards in football, but are still down several offensive linemen.
But I’m not sure I buy that the Cowboys will be completely unable to score points. That thought mostly stems from the 2020 scoring atmosphere, and the idea that the 13 total points Dallas has put up in two weeks since Prescott went down are about as bad as it gets. DiNucci is mostly an unknown, but with the ridiculous wide receiver talent at his disposal, it isn’t hard to envision him leading a couple of scoring drives.
And that’s all it might take for this game to hit the over. I don’t want to touch the Cowboys at +10.5, but the game total of 42.5 is interesting. The Eagles have had their own struggles offensively, but the Cowboys gave up three first-half touchdowns to Kyle Allen and Washington last week, and that was despite Washington’s first drive stalling at the goal line and ending with no points. Washington ultimately coasted to a 25-3 win, but Dallas had previously given up at least 34 points to five straight opponents.
With Dallas Goedert and rookie first-rounder Jalen Reagor expected back, Carson Wentz will have better weapons at his disposal than he’s had in weeks. Philadelphia should be able to score, so the low game total is really a question of whether the Cowboys can reach, say, 14 points. That would keep them close enough to avoid an outcome like the Washington game last week, and as long as Philadelphia doesn’t have a clear reason to take their foot off the gas, I don’t expect they will. They’re without top running back Miles Sanders, and backup Boston Scott is a strong receiver whose presence in a bigger role pushes them toward a more pass-focused offensive mindset. Dallas we know is willing to pass — if Prescott were in this game the total would likely be well over 50. Again, as long as Philadelphia doesn’t have a reason to take their foot completely off the gas, they should have no trouble putting up 30.
So the bet here is that we’ll get some degree of competency from DiNucci. It’s not completely out of the question that he plays surprisingly well, an outcome that would make the over the easy smart side. But we just need something from him, and with the talent around him at the skill positions in this offense, and with an Eagles secondary that’s a bit banged up and will likely suit up just three cornerbacks, I think we’ll find that at some point over 60 minutes of football.
NFL Expert Picks
Over 42.5 @ -110
NFL Free Picks
Week 8 is here and we've got some great games in store. The Cowboys visit Philadelphia to face the Eagles on Sunday Night Football and the Bucs end the week by facing the Giants in New York on Monday Night Football. Elsewhere we'll see Tua Tagovailoa's first game as Miami Dolphin's starter, and the Steelers facing the Ravens in a huge test of both team's Super Bowl credentials. The Cardinals, Texans, Jaguars and the Football Team are all on a bye this week.
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