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Game Notes

By the Numbers: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

John Williams

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Predicting Cowboys Team Leaders for 2017
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

The Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) come to town in what is a pivotal game for your Dallas Cowboys (5-4). The teams have reversed roles from the 2016 season and Dallas is looking at the real possibility of missing the playoffs if the injury woes continue to hit them at key positions.

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November 13th, 2017: – Eagles are 8-1 – Cowboys are 5-4, after a loss in Atlanta A year ago today? November 13th, 2016: – Cowboys are 8-1 – Eagles are 5-4, coincidentally after a win against Atlanta A lot can change in a year.

The most important stat I can give you now is that the Dallas Cowboys sit three games behind the Philadelphia Eagles with seven games to play.

An insurmountable lead?

Not typically, but with the way the Eagles have played this year, it’s difficult to see a scenario where they don’t win the NFC East. For the Cowboys to have a chance at winning the division, they have to win this game. Dak Prescott and company can’t afford to fall four games back in the division.

In the wild card standings, America’s Team is one game behind the Seattle Seahawks for the second wild card. So don’t let the naysayers tell you that the Cowboys are finished. It’s further from the truth.

On a positive side, Dallas leads the all-time series with a record of 65-51 (56%). Jason Garrett’s record against the Philadelphia Eagles as the head coach is 7-7, which is pretty Jason Garrett like.

The Dallas Cowboys have work to do. With that, lets look at the statistics surrounding this all-important matchup.

Takeaway Tuesday: 2

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

1

At 8-1, the Philadelphia Eagles have the best record in the NFL, let alone the NFC. Quarterback Carson Wentz is leading the NFL in touchdowns, is second in touchdown percentage, and third in quarterback rating. He’s having a tremendous season.

2

The Philadelphia Eagles, led by quarterback Carson Wentz are the second highest scoring team in the NFL, second only to the Los Angeles Rams. After a season in which the 2016 NFL Draft’s first and second overall picks struggled, Jared Goff and Wentz now have their teams leading the NFL in scoring.

Further evidence that we shouldn’t overreact about a bad quarter, bad game, or even a bad season.

3.6

Philadelphia’s run defense is only allowing 3.6 yards per carry, which is fourth in the NFL. They’ve only allowed one 100 yard rusher this season and have held seven of their nine opponents under 80 yards on the ground.

4

As impressive as Wentz has been in the passing game, the running game has been equally impressive, led by LeGarrette Blount. As a team they’ve rushed for the fourth most yards in the league. They were a plodding rushing team with Blount, but have received a boost from former Cowboys draft crush Jay Ajayi, who ran for 77 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. They are a balanced team.

Dak Prescott Should Be In The MVP Conversation

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

5

Dak Prescott’s five rushing touchdowns are the most at the quarterback position and only two off the lead of Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Mark Ingram.

Quarterbacks Cam Newton and DeShone Kizer, who sit behind Dak with four rushing touchdowns, are only averaging 4.9 and 5.0 yards per carry. Dak is averaging a robust 7.4 yards per carry on 32 attempts.

Carson Wentz is averaging 4.8 yards per carry on 44 carries.

6

Philadelphia’s +6 turnover differential sits sixth in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys’ +2 is good enough for 12th in the league. Both Carson Wentz (5) and Dak Prescott (4) have done well to not throw it to the other team.

8

Eagles CB Patrick Robinson is eighth in the NFL in passes defensed with 11. He’s only two off the leader. Jourdan Lewis, who leads the Dallas Cowboys in the same category, has only registered six.

9

Philadelphia has allowed the ninth most passing yards in the NFL this season, but they’ve only allowed 14 passing touchdowns, tied for 15th in the league.

10

In points allowed, the Eagles sit 10th in the NFL having given up 179 or an average of 19.88 points per game. Dallas has now dropped to 18th after giving up 27 to the Atlanta Falcons and are giving up an average of 22.78 points per game.

11.5

DeMarcus Lawrence regained the top spot in the NFL with his sack of Matt Ryan on Sunday. With 11.5 sacks through nine games, Lawrence is on pace for 20.44 sacks this season. He’ll have a good shot at picking up a couple more this Sunday. As I mentioned above, Philly has allowed the eighth most sacks in the NFL this season. If Lawrence wants to keep the single season sack record within reach, he’ll need to pick up the pace a bit.

21

Zach Ertz, who is the leading receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles coming into this game–and has more receiving yards than Dez Bryant–ranks 21st in the NFL in yards and 17th in receptions overall. Among tight ends, only Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots have more receiving yards. Only Jack Doyle from the Indianapolis Colts and Kelce have more receptions.

Byron Jones, you’re up.

23

While Wentz has done a number on opposing defenses, those defenses have also sacked him 23 times, which is good for the 8th most in the NFL. Time for David Irving and DeMarcus Lawrence to go to the buffet.

29

The Eagles’ 29 first downs allowed in the running game are the fewest in the NFL. This doesn’t bode well for a team that is hampered on the offensive line and missing All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Cowboys Defense Better Or Worse Then Last Season?

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

35

Dallas allows 35 points per game when Sean Lee is inactive. After he left the game against the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys allowed 27 points. Let’s just say that without Sean Lee, the Dallas defense struggles a bit.

42

Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are tied for the team lead in receptions with 42, though Dez has had 28 more targets than Witten.

53.1

At 53.1 yards per game, wide receiver Dez Bryant leads the Dallas Cowboys. That’s a pretty low number for a team leader. He and Dak haven’t been able to connect downfield, but they are getting more comfortable underneath.

61.4

Philadelphia has allowed a completion percentage of 61.4%. They’ve allowed the most attempts and the most completions in the NFL. This looks like one of those games where Dak will be asked to throw the ball 40 times.

Looking on the Bright Side of an Ugly Dallas Cowboys Loss

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

76.4

Among players with 40 or more receptions, Jason Witten’s 76.4 catch percentage ranks seventh in the NFL. The only non-running back that is in front of the future NFL Hall of Famer; wide receiver Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions.

96.3

Dak Prescott’s passer rating has him 11th in the NFL at the moment. He’s been trending up for more than a month. Hopefully, Tyron Smith is back this week so Dak can get back to slinging it around comfortably, because the run game is going to have some difficulties.

Bonus Stats

  • The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys are neck and neck in offensive yards per play at 5.7 and 5.6, which put them sixth and seventh respectively in the NFL.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, again, they are nearly identical with the Philadelphia Eagles at 5.1 yards per play and the Dallas Cowboys at 5.2.

If there were ever a midseason game that is a must-win, this seems like one. They can do it, but they’ll need a little health to be on their side. Don’t forget to check out our Staff Picks later this week.

With that, Let’s Go Cowboys!!!

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I didn’t start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I’ve now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America’s Team.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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

Forget Elliott For Now, Cowboys Must Focus On Raiders

Kevin Brady

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Despite looking dead to rights just two weeks ago, back to back wins have put the Dallas Cowboys into the playoff hunt with just three games remaining.

In order to even have a chance at sneaking in as the sixth seed, Dallas will need to win each of its remaining games to finish 10-6. In some ways, the playoffs started two weeks ago when Dallas took on the Washington Redskins. But even though this Sunday’s contest is another must-win, elimination game for the Cowboys, it’s also a classic “trap” or “look ahead” game as well.

Before the season started, most expected the Oakland Raiders to be competing for AFC supremacy. Like the Cowboys, Oakland bursted onto the scene in 2016 with a young quarterback, a dynamic offense, and an exciting roster. But, like the Cowboys, they have faltered a bit this season due to underperforming stars, injuries, and a somewhat undermanned defensive unit.

The Raiders are now 6-7, and while still alive in the AFC West race, saw their best shot at overtaking the division go up in a smoke last Sunday as they were demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Simply put, the Raiders are not a very good football team right now. And though this will be a road game for the Cowboys, it is one they should win if they are truly a playoff team. In fact, it’s one they have to win if they want to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

The reason why this could potentially be a “trap” game of sorts is who the Cowboys are scheduled to play after traveling to Oakland. A team who has been a perennial playoff contender in the NFC, and a team directly in front of the Cowboys in the current NFC standings – the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only will that Seattle game be massively important to the Cowboys if they can sneak out of Oakland with a victory, it will also feature the return of star running back Ezekiel Elliott from his six game suspension.

December 24th will be a huge day in Dallas if the Cowboys can get to 8-6 this week, but they can ill-afford to look ahead to that potentially important showdown with the Seahawks. Because if they do and the Raiders upset them at the home in primetime, the Cowboys season will end before Elliott even gets the chance to come back.

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Game Notes

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants’ Blitz

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

While much of Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants featured some ugly football from the Dallas Cowboys, the team continued to fight until completing a 20 point route of their division rivals.

Of course, stars emerged on both the offense and the defense throughout the game. Rod Smith had a breakout day, Dez Bryant made a couple of “vintage” plays, and Sean Lee returned to health and led the defense to a fantastic performance.

But as we all know, quarterbacks make the world go ’round. And no matter how great the other pieces play, it’s hard to win football games unless you can maintain high level quarterback play.

Dak Prescott returned to that high level against the Giants on Sunday.

Even if Prescott is missing throws or having accuracy issues, he had never lost his composure or made the wrong reads until that Atlanta Falcons debacle. I really believe that Dak lost faith in his protection, began abandoning clean pockets, and ended up having a few bad games in a row.

All seems right with Prescott now, as he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ big win. The area he was most impressive, was with those reads – specifically against the blitz.

dalvsnyg dak to dez td – Streamable

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On his first touchdown pass of the game, Dak Prescott beats the blitz perfectly. Just before snapping the ball, Prescott notices the safety roll down into the box. You can see him subtly move his arm to point out the safety, while calling it out to his linemen as well.

As soon as he gets the snap, Dak knows exactly where to go. The Giants tried to beat him with a delayed safety blitz, but once that safety comes, Prescott knows he has Dez Bryant in man coverage on the perimeter.

His eyes immediately snap that way, and his throw replaces the blitzer quickly. This allows Bryant to do the rest, and the Cowboys to tie the game.

dalvsnyg 17 cole beasley – Streamable

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Later in the game we see more of the same from Dak Prescott. With the game tied at 10 the Cowboys faced a critical third down backed up in their own territory. The Giants once again show blitz, bring the  blitz, and Dak burns them for it.

The Giants show man coverage across the board pre-snap, with safety Landon Collins on the near hash. Cole Beasley is in the near-slot, and while he technically has a man over him directly, the Giants show 2-over-1 in the slot pre-snap. This usually tips off a blitz, as the Giants plan to bring their slot defender off the edge, and allow Landon Collins to cover Beasley one on one.

Prescott notices this pre-snap once again, and makes the defense pay. He quickly replaces the blitzer with his throw, allowing Beasley to make the easy catch underneath and then do the rest after the catch.

This may not seem all the difficult to do to those analyzing the game the next morning, but these reads indicate high level quarterback-ing from the Cowboys’ franchise leader, Dak Prescott.

Last season against the Giants, their defense was able to bring more than the Cowboys could block on key third downs a few times. Too often, Prescott and the passing offense could not beat those blitzes.

That was not the case this week at all.

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