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Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys – Wild Card Game Preview

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Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
When: January 9, 2010, 7:00 PM on NBC

This is it - the matchup of the weekend.  There is nothing left, you win or go home.  The Cowboys are all too familiar with going home, having not won a playoff matchup since the 1996 season.  Last week the Cowboys displayed dominance over this Philadelphia Eagles team in Dallas, getting their second straight shutout this season.

You can expect the Eagles to bring everything they have - as Tony Romo said, "Every blitz in the book."  They are the masters of blitzing and their schemes are disguised brilliantly.  This game won't be a shut out, it should be a blood bath.  We're talking old school NFC East rivalries at their best, the winner is likely to have the Super Bowl in their grasp.

Fans or not, if this game isn't in your plans for Saturday night, I doubt you really enjoy football.  Tough D, Play making offenses - Are you ready for some football?


How They Stack Up
11-5 Record 11-5
6-2 Home 6-2
5-3 Road 5-3
4-2 Division 4-2
429 Total Points 363
21.1 Avg Points Allowed 15.6
26.8 Avg Points Per Game 22.7
5726 Total Offense 6390
4098 Pass Yards 4287
1637 Rush Yards 2103
47 TD 43
44 Sacks 42
Lost 1 Streak Won 3
2nd, NFC East - #6 Seed NFC Position 1st, NFC East - #3 Seed NFC


Eagles
(11-5)
Key Matchups

Cowboys
(11-5)
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
LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy

HB LeSean McCoy

Since last weeks gameplan of complex aerial attacks didn't seem to work against the stingy Dallas Defense, I expect the Eagles will try a gameplan that will involve controlling the clock and game.  Brian Westbrook proved ineffective in the last meeting, and LeSean McCoy is young and talented enough to be what the Eagles need in a HB.


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QB Tony Romo

It will once again be Tony Romo who wins this game.  Tony played brilliantly again last week.  He has evolved into one of the leagues most elite game managers.  If Jason Garrett can keep him prepared for a complex Eagles defense, Tony will be patient enough to pick this defense apart once again.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo


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DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson

WR DeSean Jackson

After being shut down by Mike Jenkins and Company, Jackson has been talking a lot of trash via twitter.  He'll be looking to smoke the competition and bring in a big win for Philly.  He'll be dangerous and the Eagles might be using him on more short yardage plays, so it'll be up to the likes of James and Brooking to keep an eye on that.


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The Dallas Cowboys Crowd

Not really players to watch, but the Cowboys Fans are known as being soft and have never created such an energy that has intimidated other teams.  The noise and excitement from the crowd will impact the Cowboys as a team, so if they are loud and supportive, expect the Cowboys to meet their energy.

 

Key Injuries


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WR Reggie Brown - Shoulder
(Full Participation)

C Nick Cole - Knee
(Full Participation)

S Quintin Demps - Ankle
(Full Participation)

WR Jeremy Maclin - Foot
(Full Participation)

QB Micheal Vick - Quadricep
(Full Participation)

T Marc Colombo - Ankle
(Out)

S Pat Watkins - Knee
(Out)

WR Miles Austin - Thumb
(Full Participation)

CB Terence Newman - Knee
(Full Participation)

S Gerald Sensabaugh - Thumb
(Full Participation)

LB DeMarcus Ware - Wrist
(Full Participation)

Winner

I'm not straying far from my decision last week.  I believe the Cowboys play an impressive game, I'm going to give them the edge but only because they are at home.  I think the Cowboys could definitely lose this game.  Even if they do, don't count it as a lost season.  This is a young team that will be competitive for years to come.

Dallas 21 Philly 17


Keys To The Game

  • Cover 2 - Having 2 safety's clouding the top worked perfectly and I expect the Cowboys to keep that strategy up.  Despite giving Celek the middle all day, the Boy's were able to contain most large pass plays.  It's important to not give up on whats working.
  • Stuff the Run - We want a recap of last weeks gameplan.  So basically we have to stop the Eagles from achieving dominance on the ground.  This will shut down McNabb's play action and make them one dimensional.
  • Pressure - Pressure McNabb all day.  Make him unsure and untrusting of the capability of his offensive line and the game will become pretty easy.
  • Stay balanced - Jason Garrett called a great game last week.  His balance of inside runs, toss's, play action passes, and screens has kept a young Eagles D confused.  Not much will have to change here, just keep it effective.

Some Other Reading

Cowboy's VS. Eagles! Take 3

NFL.COM analyzes this matchup.



Former Sports Writer. Veteran. Serving veterans is my passion. Johns Hopkins Student. Enjoy Discussing Politics and sports!

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2 Comments
  • Mark G

    Great piece because it is analytical and well thought out; however, I believe the Cowboys enjoy an edge on the offensive and defensive fronts. They have won both games in the series this year because of this edge and it is the reason they should win this weekend.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/dcnation Bryson Treece

    I agree Mark. Tony Romo had tons of time to find an open target last week, even when the Eagles did send more than 4 at him. Granted they didn't do that enough to have a chance to stop the Cowboys, but I don't think it's going to change any.

    Marc Colombo coming back in and getting the start will make a difference. Doug Free has done very well in his place, but Colombo brings a certain attitude, a nasty meanness, that can change the way that line plays.

    As for our Dline, considering Cole at center for Philly, that's just a mismatch in skill and experience. This is going to be a good game.

Game Notes

#SEAvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Wishlist Christmas Edition: Seahawks @ Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys found a way to get their first win last Sunday, defeating the New York Giants from start to finish, 20-13.

Now at 1-1 and locked in a three way tie for 1st place in the NFC East, Dallas is looking to string together a few victories and create some early separation. Seattle is now sitting at 0-2, and while that's typically a hole teams cannot climb out of in the NFL, the Seahawks will be desperately fighting to avoid an 0-3 start.

The Seahawks opened up as 3 point home favorites against the Cowboys, with the over/under set at 44.5 points.

Dallas Cowboys

After an abysmal season opener against Carolina, the Cowboys came out firing against the Giants on Sunday night. Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, and ended up holding on as the Giants made a late garbage-time run.

Dak Prescott looked as comfortable in the pocket as he as in weeks, finding Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Ezekiel Elliott scored another rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys defense was straight up dominant.

Now, the Cowboys defensive line has another chance to increase their sack total against the Seahawks' weak offensive line. And you know DeMarcus Lawrence is salivating.

Dallas improved to 1-1 straight up and against the spread, covering the 3 point spread set by Vegas a week ago. Both Cowboys games have gone under thus far as well.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks fell to 0-2 on Monday night with a tough road loss to the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack dominated the Seahawks offensive line, dictating protections and keeping Russell Wilson uncomfortable all night long.

The Seahawks haven't been able to get much of a run game going this season, despite their insistence upon doing so. Russell Wilson is their offense, and if the Cowboys can pressure him and force him into hero-ball throws, they should have success on Sunday. After all, this was the Bears recipe for success on Monday night.

Seattle is 0-2 straight up and 0-1-1 against the spread this season.

Trends

  • The score total has gone under 5 straight Cowboys' games.
  • Dallas is 2-4 against the spread their last six times playing at Seattle.
  • Seattle is 1-5 against the spread their last six games at home.
  • The under has hit 4 of the last 5 Cowboys/Seahawks games.

Prediction

While I've thought hard about picking the under for the third straight week (I'm 2-0 doing so), I'll pick the actual game for you guys this time. I think the Cowboys will get this road win and improve to 2-1 behind dominant defensive line play and a strong running game.

This match up favors Dallas in multiple ways and I expect them to take advantage of Seattle's weak spots.

I like the Cowboys +3 a lot this Sunday.



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Dallas Cowboys

Kris Richard, the Cowboys X-Factor Against the Seahawks

Brian Martin

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Top 5 Storylines to Watch in Cowboys 2018 Season Opener 1
(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

In the NFL, wins are hard to come by. That is why teams do their due diligence each and every week to try to come up with some advantage, however slight. This week, the Dallas Cowboys may have the biggest advantage they could possibly hope for over their opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, and he goes by the name of Kris Richard.

The hiring of Kris Richard may have been Dallas' biggest offseason move. We have already seen in the first couple of games of the 2018 season the impact he's had on the Cowboys defense. The entire defensive unit has been playing possessed and has pretty much dominated their opponents. I believe Richard deserves the majority of the credit.

But this week is different. The Dallas Cowboys travel to Seattle for a Sunday afternoon game against the Seahawks, who are a tough opponent when playing at home. History hasn't always been kind to the Cowboys when playing on the road in Seattle.

In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Tony Romo doesn't still have nightmares about playing in Seattle. A mishandled snap on a routine 19 yard field goal attempt ended up costing the Cowboys a playoff victory in 2007. Then he sustained the back injury that would ultimately end his career in a meaningless preseason game against the Seahawks in 2016.

To say history hasn't been kind to the Cowboys in Seattle would probably be an understatement. But still, that's where they're heading for this Week 3 matchup.

Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys Assistant Coach Kris Richard

Luckily, I believe the Dallas Cowboys have an ace in the hole in 2018. I think their new Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach, Kris Richard, is going to be the X-Factor. Who could give you more inside information than someone who spent the last eight years with Seattle as both a coach and a player than Richard?

Kris Richard should know just about all of the ins and outs about the Seattle Seahawks, especially on the defensive side of the ball since he served as their Defensive Coordinator the previous two seasons before joining the Cowboys. But, his knowledge of their offense could prove to be invaluable as well.

Richard has seen the Seahawks offense and Russell Wilson on a daily basis in practice firsthand. He should have a very good understanding of not only their tendencies, but what types of plays they run out of different formations. It should be just like having a spy within their own huddle.

Now, having inside information is one thing, but executing the game plan is something different entirely. Kris Richard can possibly predict with high probability exactly what the Seahawks plan on doing, but it falls on the Cowboys players as to execute the game plan.

In the end, this game will ultimately come down to which team executes better on the field Sunday afternoon. The Dallas Cowboys may have an X-Factor in Kris Richard, but he's not the one suiting up against the Seahawks. It all falls on the player's shoulders, as it always has.

Do you think Kris Richard can be the Cowboys X-Factor against the Seahawks?



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Reunion with WR Brice Butler Makes No Sense

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Does Brice Butler Deserve A Bigger Offensive Role?

The Dallas Cowboys have brought back Wide Receiver Brice Butler, who was with the team from 2015-2017. The reunion is a head-scratching move given the team's current stockpile of receivers, and especially given Butler's lack of impact during his previous run in Dallas.

There's no question that Dallas could use some more juice in the passing game. So far the post-Witten, post-Bryant era has only seen 165 yards-per-game out of Dak Prescott and his current receiving options.

I can understand the Cowboys getting antsy about this low production. I can understand the feeling that waiting for chemistry to develop between Dak and new faces like Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup, or any one of these young tight ends, could be damaging to the season.

But when you need a spark in the offense, it seems odd to turn to a guy who was in your system for three years and never had a huge game.

Let's just look at Butler's top five statistical performances as a Cowboy:

  • 5 catches, 41 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 4, 2016)
  • 2 catches, 90 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 3, 2017)
  • 2 catches, 50 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 17, 2017)
  • 4 catches, 74 yards (Week 16, 2015)
  • 4 catches, 60 yards (Week 17, 2015)

No games with over 100 yards. No games with more than five catches. No games with more than one touchdown.

I'm not trying to slam Brice here. He is what he is. This is all about trying to understand the logic of the Cowboys' front office in making this move.

Cowboys Blog - Terrance Williams Tuesday: #TWillTuesday 2

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

If the idea was to bring in a guy who Dak Prescott had more familiarity with, then why not give Terrance Williams more playing time? He's already on the roster and buried on the depth chart, getting the fewest snaps of all the WRs last week.

If you've followed my work for long, you know I'm no fan of Williams. But even I can admit that he's been more productive and effective in this offense than Brice Butler ever was.

If you're bringing in Butler to be a vertical threat, isn't that what you signed veteran Deonte Thompson for? Last year, playing for two different teams with shaky QB situations, Thompson had 38 catches for 555 yards. Brice hasn't had a single season close to that.

What about Tavon Austin? Just three days ago, Austin had a 64-yard touchdown. Did we really need another guy for field stretching? And even if so, what in Butler's history indicates he can do something that Thompson or Austin can't?

Don't forget about Hurns, Gallup, or Cole Beasley either. They're not vertical receivers, but they're still the top three guys in the offense.

If you're a Brice Butler fan, you've likely argued that his lack of production in Dallas was from a lack of opportunities. That may be true, but how has that changed in 2018? There are more mouths to feed than ever at WR.

What is Butler going to do now, that he didn't for three years, to earn more looks?

Should The Cowboys Consider Adding Troubled WR Josh Gordon?

Former Browns WR Josh Gordon, now with the Patriots

If Dallas was really concerned about adding an offensive spark, the opportunity was out there this week with Josh Gordon. The Patriots got him for a conditional 5th-round pick from Cleveland just yesterday.

I can understand why Dallas, given recent issues with Randy Gregory and David Irving, were reluctant to add a player with such a notorious history of substance abuse. But if the no-nonsense Patriots were willing to give him a shot, why not the far more liberal Cowboys?

If Gordon was one problem child too many, what about Jordan Matthews? The former 2nd-round pick is still just 26 (Butler is 28) and had over 800 yards in each year from 2014-2016. He had a down year in Buffalo in 2017, as anyone would, and then didn't make the Patriots squad this year due to an injury.

Whether it's on your own roster or out in the open market, there seem to be profitable options than Brice Butler. The chance for him to be the next Laurent Robinson came and went; the same QB and the same Offensive Coordinator are here.

Is there really some juice left to squeeze here?

There's an old saying that, "if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any." I think the same logic applies to having seven wide receivers. There was already a logjam, and Dallas didn't even cut one of them to make room for Butler.

So yeah, I don't get it. I'm perplexed why they added anyone at all, this early in the year, while their current receivers are all healthy and still trying to find their role in the offense.

And if the Cowboys really felt that had to make a move, why the heck did they bring back this guy?



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