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Game Notes

3 X Factors For Dallas Cowboys Vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Brian Martin



Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys 3 X Factors Against Philadelphia Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys have an amazing opportunity this week to increase their lead in the NFC East division with a win over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night. Unfortunately, a loss means that the Eagles move into first place (I think I just threw up a little).

To date, this might be the most important game the Cowboys have played in 2016, but I don't expect a change in attitude or focus to distract them from the goal at hand.

Division games are always tough because the two opponents know each other so well, but I think the Dallas Cowboys have the advantage over the Philadelphia Eagles this week.

Honestly, I think it will come down to a few players that I like to call the X Factors.

X Factors are players I think will have a major impact in the game or come up with a key play. Below are three Dallas Cowboys players I think will do just that in this week's prime time matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dez Bryant 

Cowboys Headlines - 3 X-Factors For Dallas Cowboys Vs. Philadelphia EaglesI can't tell you how excited I am to have Dez Bryant back in the lineup for the Dallas Cowboys. With him back on the field, the offense is scary good and could be unstoppable.

The only other person that could make the Cowboys offense even better than what it has been the past few weeks would be Tony Romo. Bryant makes the passing game better, the running game better, and adds a renewed attitude on the field for the offense.

The Philadelphia Eagles simply don't have a cornerback good enough to contain Bryant one-on-one, so the defense will have to devote an extra defender to bracket him in coverage. That will open up the running game and allow Ezekiel Elliott to run the ball without facing a stacked box like he has the majority of the season.

I don't know what Dez Bryant's stats will look like after the game Sunday night, but his return to the field opens up the entire offense for the Dallas Cowboys and that makes him an X Factor this week against the Eagles.

Cole Beasley

Cowboys Headlines - 3 X-Factors For Dallas Cowboys Vs. Philadelphia Eagles 1If not for the emergence of Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley might be the most important offensive weapon for the Dallas Cowboys this season.

Beasley has simply been unrecoverable this year and has been a huge reason why the offense has been so successful moving the ball up and down the field.

He has become Dak Prescott's best friend in the passing game and should continue to be even though Dez Bryant is back on the field.

The Philadelphia Eagles slot cornerback, Ron Brooks, was recently placed on injured reserve, so that means the Eagles will have to find someone else to try to slow down Beasley.

I expect Beasley to have a really good game, and convert some key third downs for the Cowboys offense. I don't foresee anyone on the Eagles defense being able to contain him and that's why I think he is an X Factor.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Cowboys Headlines - 3 X-Factors For Dallas Cowboys Vs. Philadelphia Eagles 2DeMarcus Lawrence is without a doubt the Dallas Cowboys best pass rusher on defense, but is still looking for his first quarterback sack in 2016. He has been close, but has failed to finish.

Now, I'm not predicting that he gets his first quarterback sack this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he should be able to put pressure on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.

With Lane Johnson out serving a 10 game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai has started the last two games at right tackle for the Eagles. This is a matchup that I think Rod Marinelli will try to exploit with his pass rushers, especially DeMarcus Lawrence.

Lawrence can be a difference maker for the Cowboys defense. I think it will start this week in prime time against the Philadelphia Eagles and that is why I think he will be an X Factor.

Who do you think the X Factors will be for the Dallas Cowboys?

Please for free to take advantage of the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions.

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.


Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition

Mauricio Rodriguez



Rookie Report: Which Cowboys Draft Picks Stood Out Against the 49ers?

In the NFL, the third preseason week is often referred to as the "Dress Rehearsal." It's usually the week in which starters get the most playing time. That has changed lately, with plenty of teams deciding to take care of their key players instead of risking them on the field. However, the Dallas Cowboys have played their starters on their first two games and there's no reason to believe that will change versus the Texans today.

Here is my wishlist for the Cowboys vs Texans "Dress Rehearsal!" Let me know what your wishes for tonight's game are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Wish #1: Justin Phillips Locks Up a Roster Spot

Phillips has been one of the most surprising players this offseason and preseason. The Cowboys are set at linebacker, but Phillips has made sure to be a tough guy to cut. Last week, he had a remarkable interception against the Rams. Despite making a first step toward the line, he managed to adjust and made the play. He has followed it up with more plays in practice.

If he keeps it up, the Cowboys won't be able to cut him. He has the potential to be a force on special teams and a quality backup.

Can WR Devin Smith Sneak Onto the Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Smith (AP Photo / Josie Lepe)

Wish #2: Devin Smith Makes Things Interesting

The battle for the final wide receiver spots is at full-go. Devin Smith has shined lately, and has risen as a serious candidate to make the roster. However, it seems like other wide receivers have the upper-hand as of now. Earlier this week, I made my Cowboys WR Power Rankings and had Devin Smith at #7.

His TD catch versus the Rams last week was pretty impressive, and I wish he makes a few more plays to make the debate all the more interesting.

Wish #3: Tony Pollard Does It Again

Fifth-round rookie Tony Pollard stole was the show last weekend as he racked up 51 total yards (five carries, one catch) and a touchdown on Dallas' first offensive drive. He looked impressive as the starting running back, giving us just what we wanted to see.

While many have advertised him as a gadget player, Pollard proved he can actually be a "standard" RB. He ran between the tackles, showed power, balance and great vision. I'm ready to watch it again, this time versus the Texans.

Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton 1

Wish #4: Taco Charlton Shines Rushing The Passer

Taco Charlton has made a couple of plays in preseason on his third year with the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Rams, he batted down two passes and looked good separating from opposing offensive linemen. Charlton has gotten praise from some analysts during these first two preseason weeks.

But I want to watch some quality pass rush from his part. Right now, the Cowboys' roster counts with some promising players, including rookies Jalen Jelks and Joe Jackson. While they're currently below Taco, he must prove he belongs on the roster.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Game Notes

DL Kerry Hyder Impressive In Cowboys Week 2 Preseason Win

Kevin Brady



Kerry Hyder

Kerry Hyder joined the Cowboys this offseason on a one year deal, and while the four-year NFL veteran has put up some solid tape in his time around the league, it was hard to project just what he could bring to the Cowboys defense.

Listed at 6'2" 270 pounds, Hyder is a bit of a tweener on the defensive line. Though the answer to "will he play tackle or end" seems to be "both" to this point in the preseason.

As he fights for his life on this deep defensive line, Kerry Hyder had himself a day in the Cowboys 14-10 victory over the Rams last weekend.

Hyder made an excellent play defending a screen pass in the first quarter, reading the play perfectly and reacting quickly to running back Darrell Henderson coming out of the backfield. Hyder also created some pressure on the quarterback, and finished with 3 combined tackles in very limited playing time.

Hyder's versatility is working well for him as he looks to make the final roster. Like a Tyrone Crawford type player, Hyder will be able to move inside and out depending on the situation. This allows the Cowboys to be flexible in how they structure their depth chart on defense, and in how they decide to rush the passer on third down.

A pass rushing package involving Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence on the edge with the combination of Hyder and Maliek Collins on the inside could turn out to be a very dangerous one for opposing offenses to deal with.

Rod Marinelli spoke to this versatility a couple of months ago, showing just how much he values what Kerry Hyder can bring to this team.

"Maybe you adjust him sometime, once in a while – in a one-on-one pass rush situation, stick him over a guard and start to get a feel for it.” - Rod Marinelli

Earlier this offseason, I wrote that Kerry Hyder could end up being Rod Marinelli's next great under-the-radar find on the defensive line. And if he continues to play with the hustle and awareness that he had on Saturday, he's going to make Rod look very smart in his evaluation.

Kerry Hyder is making it very difficult for the front office to let him go. And, at the end of the preseason, I do expect Kerry Hyder to find himself on the Cowboys' active roster. Especially considering how Mike White is playing at quarterback, and how his release could open up an extra spot at a different position group.

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Game Notes

#DALvsRAMS: Tony Pollard Proves he’s no Longer Darrell Henderson’s Backup

Brian Martin



#DALvsRAMS: Tony Pollard Proves he's no Longer Darrell Henderson's Backup

For the better part of three years Tony Pollard was forced to play second fiddle to Darrell Henderson during their time with the Memphis Tigers. But, Saturday night in the second week of preseason Pollard emerged from the shadows and proved he's no longer Henderson's backup.

Tony Pollard put on an impressive show Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams. He touched the ball a total of six times and turned it into 51 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 42 yards on the ground, averaging 8.4 yards per carry, and had one reception for 9 yards. All in all it was an impressive performance and one that arguably outdid his former teammate, Darrell Henderson.

Tony Pollard is starting to look like a real weapon for the Dallas Cowboys. It's still a small sample size, but in the first two preseason games he's proven the jump up in competition isn't too big for him. As a runner he's been decisive, picking up what yardage is given and not dancing around. He hasn't been utilized much in the passing game yet, but that time will come.

The Dallas Cowboys couldn't be happier with the way their rookie RB has performed thus far. He's everything they've said he was, and quite possibly much more. Maybe those Alvin Kamara comparisons weren't that far off after all.

We all know Ezekiel Elliott will return to the Dallas Cowboys at some point, but for now Tony Pollard doesn't look completely out of place as their lead back. He still needs to work on his pass protection, but everything else he's been asked to do he's excelled at.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited about seeing what No. 36 can do when these games start to matter in 2019. He will once again have to accept a backup role like he did behind Darrell Henderson in college, but you can bet the Cowboys coaching staff will reward him based on his play so far in preseason.

Pollard's versatility to be a weapon as both a runner and receiver in the passing game should make him a unique chess piece in the offensive game plan each and every week. He's been exciting to watch so far and we haven't even seen him in the return game yet, which was a big part of his game in college. I'm personally expecting big things from him this season. What about you?

What do you think of Tony Pollard's preseason performance so far?

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