Eyes on the Enemy: Dallas Cowboys
It is Dallas week for the Eagles, and for the first time writing these pieces, Philadelphia will play their enemy. In fact, they will be facing their greatest enemy, the Dallas Cowboys. It is a big game in the race for the NFC East too. Both teams need the Washington Football Team to lose against the Carolina Panthers to have a chance, but the winner will gain the opportunity to win the division in Week 17. The Cowboys have had a rough season just like the Eagles, and both teams will be hoping that they perform better than they did in the ugly Week Eight clash.
The Season so Far
The fairest assessment of Dallas' season is that they have been a shambles. Their defense for large parts has been historically bad, and their offense has done them no favours as well. The Cowboys have given up over 100 points this season off offensive turnovers. It appears that when the offense fails, the defense also caves in.
Dak Prescott's gruesome injury overshadowed their entire season as he had an awkward fall in the win over the New York Giants. The highlight of the year for them was the incredible fourth-quarter comeback over the Atlanta Falcons as the score ended 40-39.
The Cowboys sit 5-9 and Andy Dalton getting concussed then catching COVID-19 could have cost them a chance at winning the division. They were destroyed by the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving, and have now won their last two games defeating the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers. A loss to the Eagles would end their chances at winning the division. This because of Washington doing the double over them earlier in the season.
The Biggest Threat- The Receiving Core
That receiving core is incredible. Amari Cooper is a top 15 receiver in the league, Michael Gallup has been a playmaker since becoming a starter, and CeeDee Lamb continues to make plays. Eagles fans will be watching Lamb with a bitter eye on Sunday as the Cowboys drafted the wide receiver with Philly anticipating his drop down to 21.
Andy Dalton is no Kyler Murray, but the Eagles secondary is likely to remain decimated on Sunday. Even with Darius Slay back, he will not be at 100%. The Eagles gave up 406 passing yards to the Arizona Cardinals with 275 of the yards coming from wide receivers, and it will be another difficult afternoon for Jim Schwartz. With all three receivers being a threat on the deep ball he is going to have to have to see a lot of assistance from his safeties.
What to Target- The Offensive Line
That Dallas offensive line has been decimated by injuries since the start of the season. They have been in a very similar situation to the Eagles, and they have struggled to protect their quarterbacks all season. The Eagles defensive line will be licking their lips because they have feasted upon poor offensive lines this year. They are also one of the leaders in total sacks this season, and that has been one positive when it has come to watching this defense.
Plus, Andy Dalton is not one of those mobile quarterbacks that can break outside the pocket and scramble. It will allow the Eagles to stick to the mantra of being aggressive when attacking the quarterback. Dalton also hates pressure, and as we have seen in spells this season and during the latter years of his Bengals career, he crumbles under heavy defensive pressure. Philadelphia will be without Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat this weekend, but the presence of Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Malik Jackson should be enough to cause issues.
Who else to watch out for:
Tony Pollard- Pollard is likely to start Sunday nights game because Ezekiel Elliott is struggling to work past his calf injury. He had 132 total yards against the San Francisco 49ers and also had a touchdown. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry off 12 carries too, and with the Eagles struggling against the run at times this season he could have a big day if Dallas decides to lean on him.
DeMarcus Lawrence- Lawrence had been a non-factor in this rivalry up until the game in Jerry World last season. Since then he has had a few sacks and tackles for loss. With no Lane Johnson on Sunday he will be licking his lips. Especially with Matt Pryor being as poor as he has been.