Yahoo Sports NFL senior writers Terez Paylor, Kimberley A. Martin and Charles Robinson select games this week that will leave us buzzing heading into Monday.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
One of these teams will be in a world of hurt after this game, as both are currently 3-3 after entering the season with big expectations. Their fan bases are concerned, and with both clubs in large media markets, the loser is going to be ripped to shreds locally for a week afterward.
So yes, both teams are playing for their sanity, and adding an extra layer of intensity to this is Doug Pederson's "guarantee," which he walked back with reporters but his original words definitely reached the Cowboys’ locker room. So the damage is already done.
If Philly wins, their coach's confidence will be a rallying point. If Dallas wins, Pederson's "disrespect" will be a rallying point. Expect the locker room interviews after this one to be as interesting as the game itself.
Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta Falcons
The Rams and Falcons haven’t looked the same since losing in their respective Super Bowl appearances, and both teams are desperate for a win. The difference is there’s reason for some optimism with the Rams.
Having finally escaped purgatory — otherwise known as Jacksonville — cornerback Jalen Ramsey is free to wreak havoc again on the football field. It’s amazing how a trade to the West Coast has suddenly improved his back “injury,” right?
You may not even realize it, but the Rams have only one more win than Ramsey’s former team. But the expectations for Sean McVay’s squad are considerably higher now that the chatty corner has been added to their collection of stars. Ramsey’s presence won’t sort out the Rams’ offensive line issues, nor will it improve Jared Goff’s passer rating (80.8) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (7:7). But he’s expected to inject some much-needed life into a team that has lost three straight for the first time under McVay.
Meanwhile, it seems the Falcons have found every conceivable way to lose. Their latest defeat came at the hands — or, uh, feet — of kicker Matt Bryant, who missed the game-tying extra point last week against Arizona. The Falcons have lost four in a row and are near the bottom of the league in pass defense (27th) and points allowed (31st) per game. Head coach Dan Quinn has received the public support of the team owner thus far. But if Atlanta loses a fifth straight, should he?
Eagles at Cowboys
In most circumstances, I’d never suggest a matchup of 3-3 teams is the game to lock into. But this one has too much on the line to ignore.
It’s for the lead in the NFC East and might factor as a tiebreaker down the line — which is important because it’s possible that the division winner is the lone playoff qualifier. Beyond that, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is already under considerable heat and a loss heading into a Week 8 bye would set up an absolutely brutal two-week media gauntlet. It feels like the Cowboys have already reached a tipping point of sorts and there is a tough slate left on the schedule.
The Eagles aren’t in much better shape, although they’re going to get some injured players back soon, so there’s at least a light at the end of the tunnel. That said, Philadelphia’s season has been a bitter pill so far, especially in light of the overall strength of the roster coming out of training camp.
Without a doubt, one fan base is going to be irate coming out of this one. That alone is worth the watch in this brutal rivalry.
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