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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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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Wishlist: 3 Things I Want to See in Kellen Moore’s Offense

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Will 2019 be the Storybook Ending to Jason Witten's Hall of Fame Career?

The Dallas Cowboys offense will mostly remain the same in terms of players. However, a big change is coming with new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore taking over the talented unit. In a special edition of Cowboys Wishlist, I'll share the three big things I want to see in Moore's offense in 2019.

Let me know what you want to see in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Dak Prescott Weighs in on Cowboys "Dak-Friendly" Offense Approach

Wish #1: Frequent Read Option

Despite Dak Prescott's skills as a runner, rarely did we see the Cowboys run read option plays. For a team that seems to have the perfect duo for these plays, they certainly seemed to have wasted it over the last few years. This is an offense that has plenty of talent to be struggling as much as they did in the red zone last year.

Imagine being concerned about Ezekiel Elliott getting the ball and Dak Prescott keeping it at the same time? Not to mention the play action threat with a group of receivers led by Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb... oh, and a veteran tight end in Jason Witten who might be older but whose hands are very reliable.

The Athletic's Bob Sturm pointed out Prescott's average of 4.46 yards per carry and 18 touchdowns in the red zone between 2016 and 2018. The league average for all players is 2.64 and there's no one close to over four yards and over 10 touchdowns in the league. Dak has been dangerous when using his legs and yet, the Cowboys haven't used the read option as much. I hope that changes with Kellen Moore taking over.

Wish #2: Use Tight Ends More

I'm still impressed by how little the Cowboys utilized their tight ends in 2018. In fact, as Bobby Belt noted on Twitter a few months ago, this has happened consistently in Scott Linehan's career.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

One thing you consistently see when Scott Linehan takes over an offense is a drop in the starting tight end's production. Randy McMichael, Byron Chamberlain, and Jason Witten all saw drops in yards per catch, receptions per game, and yards per game once Linehan took over.

Last year, Blake Jarwin had only three games with more than three targets. In those games, he racked up 56, 45 and 119 yards. This makes me wonder if the real problem at tight end last season was more about how they were utilized rather than the players at the position.

With Jason Witten back, Jarwin and the future Hall of Famer could split the snaps. Hopefully, Kellen Moore gives them a more active role on the offense. I really think we'll see way more from them.

Wish #3: Pre-Snap Motion

Pre-snap motion is truly a thing of beauty. The simple fact of getting a player in motion before the ball is snapped can go a long way to keep a defense in its toes and cause confusion to set up a successful play. In Boise State, Moore ran an offense that heavily relied on pre-snap motions.

The first year offensive coordinator won't turn the Cowboys into the new L.A. Rams but he can add this kind of trickery to help Dallas take the next step offensively. Dak Prescott will be playing his fourth year of professional football and adding this to the offense will only help the young QB by making his reads even easier.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: 3 Things I Want to See in Kellen Moore’s Offense" 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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Dallas Cowboys

How Will Coaching Changes Impact Cowboys’ Backup QB Battle?

Jess Haynie

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Jon Kitna

There has been a big shakeup on the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff in 2019. Scott Linehan is out, Kellen Moore was promoted to Offensive Coordinator, and Jon Kitna was hired as the new Quarterbacks Coach. What impact will the changes have on the QB position, and especially when it comes to the battle for the backup role?

The contenders remain Cooper Rush, a third-year player who joined Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and 2018 fifth-round pick Mike White. Rush was the backup QB last season, but had a major experience edge over his rookie competition. That playing field will be more level now in White's second season.

The changes in the coaching staff even things out all the more. There is a new OC with new ideas and things to learn, and new QB coach with his own style and preferences. Rush and White are starting over together, in a way, with this new personnel.

Jon Kitna is especially intriguing in this conversation. Moore was here last year but Kitna brings a fresh set of eyes to the QB position. He also brings the resume of being an exceptional backup quarterback during his playing career, understanding what it takes to be a success in the role.

Kitna may see and appreciate things that neither Kellen Moore or Scott Linehan could.

Cooper Rush

Dallas Cowboys QB Cooper Rush

For example, what made Cooper Rush take a backward step in his play from the 2017 preseason to last year? He was the undrafted underdog that took the backup QB job away from Kellen Moore two years ago, but last year was the incumbent trying to hold on to his spot against a new prospect.

Did Mike White being a drafted player get in Rush's head?

Jon Kitna spent a long time fighting off younger options. He may be able to help Cooper deal with that pressure.

Or perhaps it will go the other way; Kitna's fresh perspective could help push White up the depth chart. From the new QB coach's own lips, he's approaching this situation without preconceived notions:

"For me, it’s more of a clean slate. I just want to come in and help those guys and help them progress in their careers. If you get the best out of them, that’s going to be good for us at an organization.”

A few months ago I was pushing for Dallas to sign a veteran backup. With the Super Bowl in reach, I don't want to see the season go down the drain if something happens to Dak Prescott. It'd be nice to have our own Nick Foles ready to go.

While it doesn't appear the Cowboys will go that route, I'm at least comforted by having Jon Kitna's voice in the room. He could have a tremendous influence on Cooper Rush and Mike White, and perhaps upgrade the QB2 position even without a roster move.

If nothing else, I'm going to be more confident in the backup quarterback decision knowing that Kitna was involved in making it.



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Dallas Cowboys

Despite Changes, Cowboys Offense Still Runs Through Ezekiel Elliott

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott, Rams

We've talked a lot this offseason about the changes at Offensive Coordinator and slot receiver, or how Jason Witten's return will impact the tight end position. But while all of these will impact the Dallas Cowboys' offense in 2019, the constant feature remains Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and the rushing attack.

From 2016 to 2018, since the Cowboys drafted Elliott, Dallas has ranked 1st, 3rd, and 10th among NFL teams in "run vs. pass" play calls. That's only logical; you don't spend a fourth-overall pick on a RB and then not make him the featured player in your offense.

Zeke has certainly rewarded Dallas' decision; Elliott has led the league in total rushing two out of three years, and he led in yards-per-game in 2017 while dealing with his suspension.

Leaning on Elliott has been smart business based on his effectiveness, plus the investment in the offensive line over the last several years.

Dallas has now sunk three first-round picks (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin), one second (Connor Williams), and now two thirds (Chaz Green and Connor McGovern) on building up their front wall. They've spent a lot of money to keep their All-Pro guys around, plus La'el Collins.

Some would try to paint the run-heavy approach as how the team is trying to hide the weaknesses of Dak Prescott at quarterback. But in 2014, with DeMarco Murray at RB and Tony Romo at QB, the Cowboys were still 3rd in the league in rush vs. pass attempts.

This isn't about Zeke or Dak, or any other specific player. This about a team philosophy that starts at the top with Jason Garrett, and that isn't going to change even with Kellen Moore taking over as the new Offensive Coordinator.

Dallas Cowboys: Ranking Top 5 Most Indispensable Players 4

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

We're all excited to see what new wrinkles comes from getting rid of Scott Linehan. We highly anticipate the development of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in the offense, coupled with the addition of Randall Cobb. We're salivating at what Blake Jarwin might become under the tutelage of the great Jason Witten.

Heck, maybe we'll see fullback Jamize Olawale's receiving skills put to more use. Perhaps gadget guys like Tavon Austin or rookie Tony Pollard will be deployed in more creative ways.

And yes, Dak Prescott's growth is another major factor in Dallas' 2019 success. It's especially interesting, and even concerning, as talks are ongoing about his long-term contract.

But make no mistake, this is still the Ezekiel Elliott show. Even if a few more of his carries become receptions in Moore's scheme, Zeke should still get the lion's share of the touches.

That's why this week's news about his incident in Las Vegas is so troubling. It probably won't lead to a suspension, but we saw what happened in 2017 when Elliott was missing for over a third of the season.

While Dallas should be better able to withstand losing Zeke now than it was two years ago, it may still be more than Prescott, Cooper, and the rest could handle. It definitely wouldn't put the Cowboys in good position to compete for a Super Bowl.

In the end, the 2019 will still come down to how well Dallas runs the ball. It's the engine; nothing else matters if the rushing game doesn't set everyone else up for success.

Don't ever take it for granted. This is still Ezekiel Elliott's offense.



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