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Eagles @ Cowboys – Game Preview

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Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
When: January 3, 2010, 3:15 PM

Usually in Week 17 your plans don't revolve around a weekend of football that will decide division champions, first round byes and rivalries.  This Sunday is different from most.  As the Cowboys stay home to host the Philadelphia Eagles things have never looked better.  The Cowboys, fresh off victories in New Orleans and Washington D.C., have emerged as one of the hottest teams in the league.  Dominating teams offensively and shutting down teams defensively.  This team has gone from December downer to January sleeper and things can't be looking better for this team.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Philly comes in as a team that might just be a little bit hotter than they are.   DeSean Jackson is leading an Eagles offensive unit that dominates opponents and can easily post 30 points in a game.

More importantly is knowing how intense this rivalry is.  Teams who are playing for it all, leaving nothing left in the tank, making a statement for this upcoming decade.  Tony Vs. Donovan, Jackson Vs. Jenkins, Austin Vs Samuel.  Take your seats, grab some food, have a drink and prepare to witness a battle.


How They Stack Up
11-4 Record 10-5
6-2 Home 5-2
5-2 Road 5-3
4-1 Division 3-2
429 Total Points 339
20.9 Avg Points Allowed 16.7
28.6 Avg Points Per Game 22.6
5498 Total Offense 5916
3898 Pass Yards 3992
1600 Rush Yards 1924
47 TD 40
42 Sacks 37
Won 6 Streak Won 2
1st, NFC East Position 2nd, NFC East


Eagles
(11-4)
Key Matchups

Cowboys
(10-5)
Dallas Defensive Line (3-4)

DE

DT

DE

The Dallas Cowboys come into this matchup with a defensive line that has helped attain 38 sacks this season, while limiting teams to a rushing yards per game average of 94.1 - good for 5th in the league. This unit is highlighted by Pro Bowl Defensive Tackle Jay Ratliff who had 2 sacks against the Redskins last week.

Opposing the Cowboys in the trenches is a tough offensive line for the Philadelphia Eagles. This line has allowed 34 sacks this season and is responsible for the play of Donovan McNabb. If this line wasn’t good, DeSean Jackson wouldn’t be so dominant. The Eagles rank 21st in rushing offense, and have lost their starting center for the remainder of the season.

Advantage: Draw

Philadelphia Offensive Line

LT

LG

C

RG

RT


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Dallas Offensive Line

RT

RG

C

LG

LT

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the largest offensive lines in the league. They lead the way for the leagues 8th best rush offense. They have gotten better lately in protecting Tony Romo but still have obvious weaknesses and that mostly lies at Left Tackle where Flozell Adams isn’t always reliable.

Trent Cole is an animal and will be able to beat Adams from time to time, match that with the improved play of Defensive Tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson and you have a formula for the leagues 8th best rush defense. The real story will lie with the pass rush, the Cowboys have allowed 32 sacks this season, and Tony doesn’t like feeling pressured.

Advantage: Draw

Philadelphia Defensive Line (4-3)

DE

DT

DT

DE


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Dallas Wide Receivers

WR

WR

WR

WR

WR

I’m really struggling with analyzing this matchup. On one hand Miles Austin, Kevin Ogletree, and Crayton have been spot on. Austin is someone you have to account for on every play and even when you do, you still might get burned. Whereas Ogletree and Crayton have offered great plays when they are called upon, they are not called upon as often as Austin. On the other hand, Roy Williams can’t hold onto the ball and Sam Hurd, while good, has been dropping some as well in his limited playing time. Roy says he’s going to get back to basics, but only time will tell if it helps.

Philly offers a decent, not stellar, pass defense that ranks in the middle of the league. There is only one man that really jumps out at me as a game changer and, unfortunately, he’s a big game changer. Asante Samuel is a tough DB to face, he’s a pick 6 threat all day long. This matchup will shape the game.

Advantage: Draw

Philadelphia Defensive Backs

DB

DB

FS

DB

DB


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Dallas Defensive Backs

DB

DB

FS

DB

DB

The Dallas Defense has been stepping up huge lately and may possibly be one of the best defenses in the NFL right now. We’ve seen that they’ve improved many of their flaws but the deep game remains to be seen. Jenkins and Hamlin have been locking down their side of the field, but my biggest concern is Terence Newman. Despite his All Pro repuation, he hasn’t been playing at the level he’s capable of. Not to say he’s not good, because he is, but he needs to lock down his side of the field this week to keep us in this.

Philly’s wide receivers are among the most dynamic in the league. From DeSean to Maclin to Avant you can believe that these receivers can break any game wide open. With their deep threat capability, Brent Celek is given a lot of chances to make short gains. This is a versatile passing game that is almost impossible to control. Our only hope is fundamental containment … maybe that will work.

Advantage: Philadelphia

Philadelphia Wide Receivers

WR

WR

WR

WR

WR


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Dallas Running Backs & Tight Ends

RB

RB

RB

FB

TE

TE

TE

The Cowboys have one of the most impressive running back rotations in the league. Combine that with Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett and even John Phillips and you have yourself a pretty amazing core. Jason Witten is going to tear through Philly’s mediocre front 7 and it’s going to be an all day combination with Tony Romo. Felix will dash, Barber will Smash, and Tash will run that wildcat to perfection, allowing plenty of offensive balance.

This Eagles unit to me is mediocre. Will Witherspoon is talented, but Trotter has lost a step and besides those two the unit as a whole is young. Inexperience will hurt these guys and they will not be able to contain the Cowboys balanced offensive attack.

Advantage: Dallas

Philadelphia Linebackers

OLB

LB

OLB

SS

MLB

MLB

OLB


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Dallas Linebackers

OLB

OLB

MLB

SS

MLB

LB

LB

If you're a football fan, names like Brooking, Ware, and Bradie James should keep you listening. This linebacker team is the core behind the re-emergence of the Dallas D. Ware and Spencer seem to be almost unblockable while Brooking and James have been wreaking havoc on running backs and tight ends. Most experts would consider this a top 5 unit and it’s going to be hard to break through.

Westbrook is dangerous when healthy and McCoy has potential. However, neither of these two are going to make a difference in this game. Philly has a secret weapon in the run game and that is their fullback, Leonard Weaver. Weaver can run, catch, and block and it’s just plain difficult to gameplan for a fullback with that potential mixed with dangerous running backs. I’m originally from Philly and my father is a die-hard Eagles fan and he repeatedly tells me that Weaver is the difference maker and I believe him.

Advantage: Dallas

Philadelphia Runnings Backs & Tight Ends

RB

RB

RB

FB

TE


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Players To Watch
Sav Rocca
Sav Rocca

P Sav Rocca & Mat McBriar

Special teams are going to have a heavy influence on the outcome of this game. Thats why I’ve highlighted these punters as players to watch. With extremely explosive offenses for both teams you need to give them the longest field possible.

Mat McBriar
Mat McBriar


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QB Tony Romo

Tony’s been brilliant as of late. Throwing only 1 interception in the last month. It's not only about his improved play though, it’s been his ability to manage games and read defenses that has attributed to his success. Maybe the hottest quarterback in the league, Tony will have to manage, read, and deliver in this game. It’ll be up to him to make the proper changes and get this offense clicking early.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo


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DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson

WR DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson is the Eagles X-Factor. There is no doubt he has playmaking ability and explosive potential. In this game he’ll face a defense that has been known for being weak against the deep ball and you have to expect him to be able to find holes. The only question is if he’ll be able to burn up-and-coming CB Mike Jenkins who has played some of his best ball as of late.


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images via yahoo.com

 

Key Injuries


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WR Reggie Brown - Shoulder
(Probable)

C Nick Cole - Knee
(Probable)

S Quintin Demps - Ankle
(Probable)

WR Jeremy Maclin - Foot
(Probable)

QB Micheal Vick - Quadricep
(Probable)

G Max Jean-Gilles - Ankle
(Probable)

T Marc Colombo - Ankle
(Out)

S Pat Watkins - Knee
(Out)

WR Miles Austin - Thumb
(Probable)

CB Terence Newman - Knee
(Probable)

S Gerald Sensabaugh - Thumb
(Probable)

LB DeMarcus Ware - Wrist
(Probable)

Winner

The Cowboys battle hard and won't lose by a lack of effort but are unable to contain some of the big plays and lose, which might turn out to give them a better road to the playoffs.

Philadelphia 30 - Dallas 24


Keys To The Game

  • Stick DeSean Jackson - DeSean Jackson is one of the most dangerous weapons in the league. It’s his ability to get behind defenders that makes him so good, and Dallas had their share of blown assignments. If Jenkins can stop him, we can win.
  • Destroy Donovan - This is usually a pretty big “no-brainer”. However, this game I don’t just wan’t pressure, we need to destroy Mcnabb, he can’t have time to pick us apart and make his progressions. Constant pressure is the key here.
  • Tony and Roy for Miles - It is important that the pass game is sharp. I’m not exactly impressed by the eagles pass defense, and if we can air it out and score early, we can control the clock by having Philly’s D on their heels anticipating the pass.
  • Special Teams - Field position is key in this game. We can’t give Philly a short field; we can’t afford to blow any assignments in this area.

Some Other Reading

ESPN'S take on this weekends big game.

Why Dallas Must Win



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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Joe

    January 4, 2010 at 3:13 am

    NFC EAST CHAMPS!!! The big goose egg for Philly today! Let's do the same thing next week to em!! HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS!!

  2. Bryan Martin

    January 4, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Hey Joe! I'm stoked about the boys right now, i was wrong on my prediction and glad for it. Bring on next week

  3. Bryson Treece

    January 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Heck yeah man. That game was great. Romo had a point afterward though, next week the Eagles will bring every blitz in the book at them, so it will be a tougher game to win. Can't wait though.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Linebacker

Jess Haynie

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Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch's Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion

One of the brightest spots on the Dallas Cowboys' projected 2019 roster is linebacker. The young pair of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have already emerged as one of the league's best duos. But that doesn't mean that the Cowboys have no work to do at the position this offseason.

Having Jaylon and Leighton does take a lot of pressure off. Most teams utilize their nickel scheme more than any other these days, which generally utilizes just two linebackers, in the increasingly pass-focused NFL. And thankfully, both Smith and Vander Esch have shown great skills in pass defense.

But there's still a semi-starting role to get figured out in the base 4-3 scheme. Damien Wilson has held the strong-side or "SAM" position for the last few years and has an expiring contract.

What's more, Dallas has a big decision to make regarding the contract of Sean Lee, which is ripe for terminating with $7 million in salary cap savings possible.

It's highly unlikely that the Cowboys would keep both Lee and Wilson. If they decide to re-sign Damien, Lee will be cut to help fund that move and others. If Sean is kept on, Wilson will almost surely be looking for a starting role somewhere else in free agency.

Even if the Cowboys do make Lee a cap casualty between now and March 13th, they may still allow Wilson to test free agency and then try to re-sign him later at a discount. He's unlikely to attract the same attention that Anthony Hitchens got last year.

How Does LB Joe Thomas Fit Into Cowboys' 2019 Plans?

Dallas Cowboys LB Joe Thomas (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Another factor in all of this is Joe Thomas, a free agent addition last year who provided good depth and could potentially start in 2019. He is scheduled to count $2.2 million against the cap, which is fine for a primary reserve but a bargain for an occasional starter.

A core of Smith, Thomas, and Vander Esch gives the Cowboys a good foundation to build from. Smith can play the SAM in the base scheme and Thomas can be the primary backup to Jaylon and Leighton in the nickel.

However, going that route would deplete the depth chart. Chris Covington, a sixth-round pick last year, would be the only noteworthy player under contract. Dallas would need to find at least two more guys to fill out the group for 2019.

They could look at re-signing backup Justin March-Lillard, who would at least bring some familiarity and veteran experience. But that might still leave them looking for more of a primary reserve, which would be especially vital if Thomas is promoted to a starting role.

The projected LB free agent pool for 2019 should make it a buyer's market. Dallas may be able to re-sign Damien Wilson or even add an upgrade, like perhaps the Vikings' Anthony Barr, at a relative bargain. There should be ample options for depth as well.

Barring an extremely favorable value opportunity, don't expect the Cowboys to spend a significant draft pick at linebacker. The fourth-round is the earliest I could see one going based on other needs, and even then it would need to be someone they really like.

Good drafting is why Dallas has flexibility and leverage this offseason. The picks they invested in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch appear to have made LB a strength of the team for the next several years.

There is still business to attend to, but the Cowboys won't have to be too concerned with linebacker in 2019 thanks to their young stars.



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Dallas Cowboys

Xavier Woods Versatility Key in Dallas Cowboys FA Safety Pursuit

John Williams

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Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Is Getting Better By The Week

There has been a debate going on among Cowboys Nation for more than a year now about the prospects of bringing in Seattle Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas. Now with free agency approaching, there are several other names that the Dallas Cowboys could consider when looking to upgrade the safety position. Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tre Boston are several of the many quality and really good safeties that are hitting the free agent market in a few weeks. It's a group with varied skill sets and abilities, which makes the debate even more interesting. The Dallas Cowboys, however, will be able to take a look at all of them when free agency opens March 13th because of one player; Xavier Woods.

Xavier Woods, the Cowboys fifth round draft pick from the 2017 NFL Draft just finished his first full season as a starter for the Cowboys and played really well. In two years he's shown the ability to cover from the slot, play deep, play in the box, be a force over the middle, and make plays on the football. He's one of the more versatile players on the defense with his ability to play all over the field. That versatility allows the Dallas Cowboys' front office an advantage when approaching the names mentioned above.

The Dallas Cowboys don't have to be locked in to one particular type of safety. When people talk about Landon Collins, they label him a "box safety." Earl Thomas is a traditional free safety. Tre Boston is a similar player to Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu is like Collins. The Cowboys can go into free agency with the freedom to explore their options and do their due diligence when it comes to these players.

That's a distinct difference from this offseason to last.

Last offseason, the feeling was that the Dallas Cowboys had to go get Earl Thomas. The safety position was so weak that the Cowboys were going to be playing at a disadvantage in the high-flying, pass-heavy NFL. Xavier Woods proved in his first full season that he can be a productive, play making starter in the NFL and should only continue to improve.

According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier Woods was sixth in the NFL in passer rating against among safeties with at least 352 coverage snaps. His 62.8 passer rating allowed in his coverage was tied with Eric Weddle, better than Derwin James, Reshad Jones, Adrian Amos, and Maliek Hooker. Of the safeties drafted in the 2017 draft class, only Eddie Jackson from the Chicago Bears had a better passer rating against than Xavier Woods.

The Dallas Cowboys got a really good player in Xavier Woods and as they get ready to potentially make a run at a big name safety, they can feel confident that whoever they end up signing will be a good fit with Woods. He can play in the box or cover receivers and tight ends. You can run more two deep safety looks, because he has the range to play it.

This year, as opposed to last, they have more certainty at the safety position because of Xavier Woods and the strides he took in 2018. There's no reason to believe that he can't continue to take a step forward for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play all over the field allows the Cowboys to be smart and patient in their pursuit of a safety upgrade this offseason.



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Dallas Cowboys

3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

John Williams

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3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

The free agency period in the NFL will be here in a little more than three weeks and the Dallas Cowboys will begin the annual tradition of trying to put together the best 53-man roster that they can come up with. Free agency is just one part of the equation that includes the draft, the signing of undrafted free agents, adding and subtracting from the roster during training camp, and picking up players after the final cut down day.

You can rest assured that Will McClay and the entire pro scouting department is doing their due diligence in anticipation of the March 13th start to the 2019 free agency period. They'll look high and low for players that can come in and be contributors for the Cowboys. Even within their own division.

Between the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins, there are some interesting names to consider as the Cowboys peruse the free agent aisles of the NFL superstore. Some of those players like Landon Collins, Ronald Darby, Nick Foles, and Brandon Graham will be new releases that will cost you a pretty penny at the check out stand. Others like Haloti Ngata will be in the used and refurbished section. And then there are those who could be had at a reasonable or discounted rate.

Here are three from within the NFC East that the Cowboys could have their eye on.

Mario Edwards, Defensive Line, New York Giants

The former Oakland Raiders second round pick out of Florida State University has already played for two teams in his young four-year career. That isn't a good sign for Mario Edwards as he approaches free agency for the first time. You don't generally see many top 100 picks get released from the team that originally drafted as they usually wait as long as they can to see if the player is going to hit.

For Mario Edwards, he found himself caught in a numbers game and outplayed by two rookies in Oakland's training camp in 2018, leading to his release. It also sounds like the Raiders couldn't quite figure out where to put him on their defensive line.

We know that the Dallas Cowboys love looking around the league for those reclamation projects. Edwards could be the next David Irving or Antwaun Woods. A player that isn't highly thought of, but in the right situation and with the right coaching could flourish.

Edwards has played 14 or more games in three of his first four seasons, missing his second season with a hip injury. He totaled more than two sacks a season in those three seasons. He isn't by any stretch of the imagination someone who is going to come in and replace DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory, but he could be a nice depth piece with potential to see significant snaps both at defensive end and 3-technique defensive tackle.

Edwards could be the next Rod Marinelli special.

Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys could be in the market for a slot wide receiver this offseason if Cole Beasley is allowed to walk in free agency, which seems like a near certainty. There are several intriguing options on the roster in Allen Hurns and Cedric Wilson that could play in the slot some, or play on the outside allowing Amari Cooper to play in the slot. They could also look to the draft for Beasley's replacement as well. In the free agent pool, there are several interesting names, one of which is Jordan Matthews.

Jordan Matthews just finished his second stint in Philadelphia and while he didn't have huge production in Philly in 2018 -- 20 receptions on 28 targets for 300 yards and two touchdowns, he's a player with a track record in the NFL and could be a "big slot" option.

In Matthews first three seasons in the NFL, he averaged 75 receptions on 115 targets for 891 yards and 6.3 touchdowns in his first stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2014, Matthews caught 64 of his 67 receptions from the slot, which was second in the NFL that season. In 2015, he led the NFL in receptions from the slot with 81, while also scoring eight touchdowns. In 2016, his final year with the Eagles, he was ninth in the NFL with 53 receptions. So, in those first three seasons in the league, he averaged 67 receptions, 796.3 yards, and six touchdowns. He caught eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons for the Eagles in the slot.

He's not the same player that Cole Beasley is, but he's a player that knows how to win in the slot and because of the past couple of years could be a cheaper option to try and replace Cole's production.

Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins

If Jordan Matthews is the inexpensive option for the Dallas Cowboys in the slot, Jamison Crowder would require paying a pretty penny. Spotrac.com estimates that Crowder could be worth $8 million per year over four years on the open market.

Interestingly enough, he's never been as productive as Cole Beasley or Jordan Matthews, but because of his age and his work the last couple of seasons, injuries not withstanding, he's seen in a more positive light than Matthews.

Crowder is cut from a similar cloth as Beasley. Smaller in stature and uses quickness and speed to win games. As Cowboys fans, we know all to well the effect that he has in game. Crowder, however, has never had more than 66 receptions in a season and has only scored more than three touchdowns once in his four seasons in the NFL; back in 2016 when he scored seven.

Crowder is coming off of an injury this season that limited him to just nine games, 29 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. In his three full seasons prior to 2018, Crowder averaged 64 receptions on 93 targets for 746 yards and four touchdowns.

If for some reason, his market comes in less than the $8 million per year that Spotrac.com is projecting, I'd be very interested in bringing Crowder to Dallas.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Each of these guys offers something intriguing that the Dallas Cowboys could use. Whether it's a defensive lineman or a slot wide receiver, they all bring something to the table. The Dallas Cowboys need to approach this offseason with a "go for it" mentality, but if they continue to follow their free agency philosophy, Mario Edwards and Jordan Matthews could be nice pieces to add to the team that offer a lot of upside.



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