DALLAS — Rivalry Game. Philadelphia Eagles hate week. Whatever you want to call it, Sunday is a big day for both franchises involved. The Eagles are coming off back-to-back divisional wins to stay within striking distance of the Dallas Cowboys.
Should the Eagles continue their streak, they would be tied up at the top with the Cowboys with just three weeks left to decide the division. However, Dallas has been on a steak all their own, including a 27-20 victory over these Eagles in Philadelphia last month. The Cowboys aren’t out of “desperation mode” just yet. This game is just as important for them as they have a chance to all but eliminate the Eagles and claim an iron grip on the East.
Prior to their last matchup in Philadelphia, the Eagles got it started with a little trash talk. Unfortunately for them, the Cowboys came out on top in their first of two consecutive road wins to start their winning streak. It doesn’t appear that they learned their lesson as another Eagles player decided to kick off this rivalry week by talking about how the Cowboys “always choke.”
Now that you’re done opening a separate browser to find out who exactly Kamu Grugier-Hill is, we will get back to the task at hand, which is focusing on this game.
The Cowboys are coming off their most impressive game of the season in which they took down the hottest team in all of the NFL with a 13-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints. They will look to bring that same focus and mentality to a divisional foe. That is where it needs to start for this team. The Eagles have a good quarterback in Carson Wentz and a good receiver group with Alshon Jeffrey and Golden Tate. The defense will need to find ways to neutralize them.
Up front the Eagles have two good to top-tier level tackles in Lane Johnson and Jason Peters. Peters has been dealing with injury issues as of late and the Cowboys can exacerbate that with pure speed. Randy Gregory will be tasked with putting the pressure on Peters around that right end. Johnson will then have his hands full with a relentless DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence has never recorded a sack versus the Eagles in his career and this will be the perfect time to get that first one.
The Cowboys secondary will need to do their job once again. Jourdan Lewis was finally able to get some snaps in a game that didn’t involve running jet sweeps. He drew the assignment of covering Alvin Kamara and came away with the game-clinching interception of Drew Brees and came within inches of a second. Likely you can expect to see him covering Darren Sproles, who can be a dangerous receiver out of the backfield himself.
Offensively speaking, the Cowboys need to impose their will on an ailing Philadelphia defense. The Eagles will have issues on the back-end defending Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley. Neither Avonte Maddox or Jalen Mills practiced on Wednesday or Thursday which leaves their game status up in the air. Some feel that Maddox will play in the nickel role or at safety. An injured player covering Beasley seems counterproductive but that is one matchup to keep an eye on.
As banged up as the Eagles are in the secondary, the same can be said for the Cowboys offensive line. Tyron Smith and Xavier Su’a-Filo were both limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Both are expected to play with Philly's vaunted front four getting ready to tee off. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will need them to be on their “A” game for them to get the offense rolling.
Both teams will be ready to slug it out but the Cowboys have been improving as the season has worn on and that makes them even more dangerous against a team they already beat a few weeks ago. You can never assume a win in the NFC East but I will take the Cowboys 21-10 to keep their stranglehold on the division as they prepare for a postseason run.
Do you predict the Cowboys will come out victorious? Share your thoughts on this massive NFC East battle with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.