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Week 11 Preview: Cowboys Prepare for Rivalry Battle with Eagles

Bryson Treece

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Cowboys Blog - #SmoothView Game Preview: Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles 1
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It's week 11 and those dastardly Philadelphia Eagles are coming to town. Carson Wentz and his little pals have pretty much had their way with everyone except for one non-division tilt with Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs.

There has been a lot a chatter about the Cowboys' downward slide. From some really questionable non-calls by the officials, some questionable coaching calls and of course, the team staying healthy. Many times. where there is smoke, there's fire so I see some validity in all three of those points.

Sean Lee will be out for several weeks and this hurts badly. There is a noticeable weakness that opponents are taking advantage of when Lee is sidelined.

On the bright side, Anthony Hitchens has really stepped it up and is playing in top form. He finished with 10 tackles and one-and-a-half tackles for a loss during the trouncing at the claws of the Atlanta Falcons. He'll have to pull double-duty in trying to plug up the run-game of the leagues' second-most proficient offensive attack.

Just as big of an absence is felt by the loss of Tyron Smith. If Smith does return (not guaranteed to) he most likely won’t be 100%. Dak was getting man-handled by the Falcons defensive front as a result of this loss and I'm not sure what kind of OL band-aid can stop this hemorrhage of defenders from finding their way into the backfield.

But the bottom line is: The Cowboys need this win.

They must win here on Sunday and then receive some help from both the Giants and the Redskins to keep the Philadelphia Eagles out of a mathematical playoff lock.

"(We) know what we're getting into, and they know what they're getting into. So, it is a big game. It's a huge game. And most importantly it's a big game because it's the next one that we play. Second to that, it's the Eagles. It's a rivalry, and they are leading our division right now. ... If we want to make a run at winning this division, giving ourselves a chance to play late into the season, it's a game that we have to win." - Dak Prescott

America's Team has a quite a few things going for them in this situation:

  • First of all, America's Team has only been listed as a home underdog one other time in the last two seasons, and they won that outing, thus, are 100% in this situation.
  • Secondly, Cowboys are 6-4 head-to-head over the Philadelphia Eagles throughout the last 10 meetings (the Eagles have snatched away two out of the last three).
  • Third, the 'Boys are 9-4 while playing in Dallas over the last two seasons. This is just shy of a 70% home win-rate!
  • Fourth, they are 4-2 after a loss winning 66.7% of the time in a bounce-back situation and also covering the spread 66.7% after a loss as well. With the line being just 3-points, to cover the spread is to most likely win as well.
  • Fifth, with the Eagles well-rested and fresh off their bye, and the Cowboys just coming off of a seriously ugly loss to the Falcons, you would think that the Eagles would come in as at least one-touchdown favorites. Fact is, they are only giving up a field-goal. This just goes to show that even in Vegas, the rivalry factor is respected.

The rivalry factor definitely has to be considered. These are anything-goes-type games and surely this is why the Eagles are only small favorites. We'll have to check the top betting sites later in the week as the line could actually move back towards the Cowboys and their home-field advantage, which would be indicative of a highly competitive game to come.

This will be the game of the season. So, clear your afternoon to get your eyes in front of this broadcast. Injuries or not, these men know what's at stake, the playoffs. Hey Philly fans, prepare for battle.



Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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3 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    Some inspiration during Bad Moon week, with link to full article at bottom

    “But despite all their talent, don’t think for a minute the ’71 Cowboys went untested. Their season was hardly a magic carpet ride. Dallas started 2-0 that year, but then the defending NFC champions lost three of their next five games, falling to 4-3 and two games behind first-place Washington in the NFC East after a 23-19 defeat in Chicago on Halloween.

    Ditka recalls a players-only meeting shortly after that loss in which the leaders of the team stood up and cleared the air for everyone, making sure they were all on the same page as the final seven games of the season loomed. Landry that week came out and announced Staubach, the third-year veteran, would be the unquestioned starting quarterback for the first time, removing the divided locker room debate between him and Morton, who had started and lost Super Bowl V to the Colts the previous season.

    The Cowboys won their final seven regular season games and all three of their playoff games, winning 10 in a row to close out the year and finally end their string of postseason heartbreaks. Dallas (11-3) won on the road in Minnesota in the NFC divisional round, beat San Francisco at home in the NFC title game, then dominated the Dolphins in the Super Bowl”

    https://www.si.com/more-sports/2011/11/22/1971-cowboys

  • John Williams

    I’ve got a really bad feeling about this game. The Eagles aren’t perfect by any stretch, but they’ve got enough of a ground game to make things difficult for Dallas early which will open up the play action pass for Carson Wentz throughout.

    I hate to say it, but it’s looking more and more likely that the Eagles are going to run away with the division this season.

    • Michael Barthel

      Eagles have had the 3rd easiest schedule all year. They are beatable we beat the chiefs and the chiefs beat them. They are not as great as everyone is putting them to be. Yes they get lucky with lee and Elliott out. Honestly all the teams in top 7 easiest schedules are all 6-3 or better. I honestly think the bye week hurts Philly they were on a roll and had to take a week off. But the nfl will keep screwing Jerry and Dallas cuz of him suing thing. Philly is benefiting off beating teams 4-5 or worse one good game against Carolina that’s it. Dallas can beat this team. It took them a 61 yard field goal to beat the 1-8 giants. Field goal to beat the 3-6 chargers. It took them to the 4th quarter of both skins game to beat them.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Colts Week 15 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win this week, while the Indianapolis Colts are fighting to stay alive in the AFC wild card race. Only one team can accomplish their goal, and both have some big names on the Week 15 injury report.

We'll begin with the visiting Cowboys, who could be getting at least one star player back while another is already confirmed to miss the game.

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) - OUT
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - OUT
  • DL David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - Questionable
  • WR Lance Lenoir (illness) - Questionable
  • OT Tyron Smith (neck) - Questionable
  • DE Randy Gregory (personal) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable

Yes, sadly, Zack Martin will be out tomorrow. The good news is that Connor Williams got the entire week to practice with the starters at right guard. You can read much more about this situation and it's impact on the game here, courtesy of our own Sean Martin.

Also ruled out, as they have been for a while now, are TE Geoff Swaim and DL David Irving.  Swaim is still recovering from wrist surgery but has not been placed on injured reserve, so the team must feel he could be back for the playoffs. Irving could return as soon as next week.

Speaking of returns, Sean Lee may be back on the field this Sunday. It's unknown yet how he'll rotate with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, but Dallas has the luxury of working him in slowly thanks to the play of their young duo.

Tavon Austin could also return this week, creating another new offensive wrinkle. Austin has been injured since the Jacksonville game and has yet to play since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper. Not only could Tavon do some interesting things in the offense, but he should bring some additional sizzle to special teams.

While appearing on the injury report, Randy Gregory missed practice this week for "family reasons" according to Jason Garrett. He could still play tomorrow.

Indianapolis Colts

  • G Mark Glowinski (ankle) - OUT
  • LB Skai Moore (neck) - OUT
  • S Mike Mitchell (calf) - OUT
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) - Questionable
  • TE Ryan Hewitt (ribs) - Questionable
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee) - Questionable

The big name here is Hilton, the star receiver who missed all practice this week with an ankle injury. Indianapolis has not ruled him out, wanting to give Andrew Luck's favorite target every opportunity to play. But it's not looking good, and a bad ankle could limit Hilton's effectiveness even if he goes.

Also hurt among the passing options is starting TE Ryan Hewitt, but he did practice full on Friday and should go. Not playing, however, is starting right guard Mark Glowinski. That means third-year player Evan Boehm should start, who just joined the team in October.

Indy's hurting at safety this week. Not only did starter Clayton Geathers miss the whole week of practice, but veteran backup Mike Mitchell is already ruled out. The Colts would have to rely on undrafted rookie George Odum if neither plays.

Fun fact before we go; former Cowboy Jihad Ward was picked up by the Colts after Dallas included him in their roster cuts to start the season. However, he landed on injured reserve back in October so won't get a chance at revenge.



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Game Notes

Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

Sean Martin

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Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line depth will be tested as they play for a chance to clinch the NFC East on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Suffering a knee injury last week against the Eagles, Right Guard Zack Martin will not be able to play. In missing his first career start, rookie Connor Williams rightfully returns to the starting lineup as Martin's replacement.

The 50th overall pick from this year's AT&T Stadium hosted Draft has started eight games this season at left guard. Williams' last start happens to be in the last game Dallas lost, a week nine defeat to the Tennessee Titans. This opened the door for Xavier Su'a-Filo to become something of a sensation for Cowboys Nation as the starting left guard throughout the team's current five game win streak.

David Moore on Twitter

Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a sprained knee. Rookie Connor Williams will start in his place.

Zack Martin being unavailable is hardly how Marc Colombo wants to prepare for the Cowboys first road game since week 11. Having both Su'a-Filo and Williams in the lineup will be valuable for the Cowboys moving forward though, as Williams could earn his job at left guard back from the right side.

While he won't nearly be expected to play at the level of Martin, Williams looked poised coming off the bench against the Eagles and helping the Cowboys offense score their final three touchdowns. Williams was on the field for all three of Amari Cooper's scores, as Dallas rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries with him in the game.

Williams flashed some of the traits that made him a top left tackle prospect out of college, flowing to the second level with ease and creating movement with quick feet at the point of attack. The Cowboys have forced him to remain game ready despite losing his starting position by finding a few emergency snaps for him in recent weeks, as well as special teams looks. The team has every reason to believe Williams is an ascending young player still.

The same cannot be said of Su'a-Filo, who simply has to focus on continuing to hold up at left guard again this week. With each passing win, Su'a-Filo's LG spot has become more of a liability in a Cowboys offense in need of a jump-start late in this 2018 season.

Consistent offensive line play is one of the few things that's clearly hurting the Cowboys as contenders in the NFC behind a stellar defense and game breaking wide receiver.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength against the eighth best rushing defense and 15th ranked passing defense in yards per game. With three separate chances to clinch the NFC East starting at the Colts and extending until the end of the regular season, the Cowboys stand to learn all they need to know about the offensive line that will start in the playoffs.

Martin, who's elevated his game to a new level this season despite this lingering knee injury, should be on track to return when the Cowboys come home to play the Buccaneers in week 16.

Tell us what you think about "Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.



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