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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

2 Comments

  1. Mark G

    January 8, 2010 at 5:10 am

    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.

  2. Bryson Treece

    January 8, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    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.

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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?

A season after Jason Witten's retirement, the Dallas Cowboys still have a need at tight end. Replacing a future Hall of Famer is no easy feat so it's only logical that it would take longer than a season to feel good about who's in at tight end.

The Cowboys currently have two tight ends who could be pretty serviceable going forward. Fourth round pick Dalton Schultz did a very solid job as the team's TE2, specially toward the second half of the season. He turned into a pretty good run blocker and despite only racking up 116 yards in 12 catches, he's a guy the Cowboys' offense could use even more in the future.

Also on the team is Blake Jarwin, who functioned as the Cowboys' main tight end for most of 2018. His performance against the New York Giants in week 17 made us wonder whether or not he could be an important target on the Cowboys' offense.

These two could very well have more in them than what we've seen. With a new offensive coordinator in town, tight end is a position the Cowboys could start using way more. As Bobby Belt pointed out on Twitter a few weeks ago, Scott Linehan's offense doesn't benefit tight ends very much. Before we give a verdict on what Schultz and Jarwin can do, I'd like to see them work with Kellen Moore's offense.

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.

Here's the thing. If the Cowboys are not taking a tight end in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, are they really upgrading what they already have? I'm not sure we'll be convinced about that if they draft a player for the position until the third or fourth round. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for the Cowboys drafting a TE in the second round, because I believe there are more pressing needs on the team. However, signing a veteran free agent might be the better option for upgrading the position.

Should a veteran TE be an option?

This year, there are quite a few interesting names in the tight end market. Veterans such as Jared Cook, Tyler Eifert and even Antonio Gates will be looking for a new team pretty soon. I know, that would be "getting older." But it could also mean getting better. Building a solid TE committee with a veteran leading Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz could be the way to go for this football team.

Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency? 1

TE Tyler Eifert (Aaron Doster / USA TODAY Sports)

Eifert is a great tight end... when he's on the field. Durability is his biggest weakness, as he hasn't played more than 10 games since 2016. The Cowboys could take a risk on him and constantly rotate him with Jarwin and Schultz. It may be a huge risk, but it could pay off big time. If the price is right, Eifert should be targeted by the front office.

The 2018 Oakland Raiders had a season to forget, winning only four games. Even still, Jared Cook's season was impressive. He finished the year with 896 yards and multiple 100-yard games. The biggest issue with Cook is his age. He turns 32 in April. But hey, he's literally coming off from a career year.

Jesse James is a younger guy who could also be worth it. He's not an a potent receiver, but he gets it done in the passing game and is one hell of a blocker. James could be a legit, cheaper option for the Cowboys in free agency.

There are a lot of names out there the front office could look at. Charles Clay was just released by the Buffalo Bills and Nick Boyle will be looking for new job after new arrivals pushed him out of the Baltimore Ravens' roster just to mention a few names.

We'll see what the front office's plans are soon enough, but right now, I'd say tight end is a need the Dallas Cowboys should at least try to address in free agency instead of the NFL Draft.

Tell me what you think about "Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?" 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

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Cornerback

Jess Haynie

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Byron Jones

Unlike other positions on their roster, cornerback appears ready to off the Dallas Cowboys stability in 2019. However, that doesn't mean the team can just ignore it this offseason. There are still a few decisions to be made.

Thanks to a shrewd move in April of last year, Dallas will be enjoying Byron Jones' services at a bargain. They picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract and will be paying him just $6.3 million next season.

That's a steal for a Pro Bowl corner, who generally make more than double that amount in a single year. But the Cowboys are still left the decision of whether or not to give Jones a long-term deal now or wait until he hits free agency in 2020.

It's easy to say that they should enjoy the discount and worry about it next year. But then you risk a second Pro Bowl trip and the lure of the open market. Byron's asking price could only go up.

Of course, Dallas could then also have the option of using the franchise tag.

Keep in mind that Jones will turn 27 this September. Dallas could decide that it makes sense to play through the rookie deal this year, franchise him in 2020, and then reassess when he's about to turn 29 years old.

If they give Byron a long-term deal now then they'll have to pay him like one of the top corners in football. It may be wise to wait.

Chidobe Awuzie, Giants

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

Another decision facing the Cowboys is if they think they can improve at the second starting position. It was an up-and-down year for Chidobe Awuzie, but he was playing his best toward the end of the season. Dallas could hope that a second year with Kris Richard's coaching, and just more general growth for a third-year player, will elevate Awuzie's game.

However, with plenty of cap space to work with, Dallas could pursue a solid veteran option and then allow Awuzie to play the nickel role. It would not only perhaps improve the CB2 position but also bolster depth overall.

Speaking of depth, Anthony Brown returns for the final year of his rookie deal. While never spectacular, Brown has been a gem as a former sixth-round pick with 29 career starts. He brings exceptional value and may even compete with Awuzie for the starting job.

While arguably the team's best young corner in 2017, Jourdan Lewis comes into this season with a lot of uncertainty. He fell out of favor last season, perhaps for not fitting the physical style that Richard likes. But he did manage to snag the game-clinching interception in Dallas' upset win over the New Orleans Saints.

If a scheme mismatch is the issue, the Cowboys could look to trade Lewis this offseason. He still has two years left on his rookie deal and was considered a first-round prospect by some in 2017. A cornerback-needy club might have more use for him than Dallas seems to.

If they did move Jourdan, the Cowboys might turn to Donovan Olumba to fill out the depth chart. He was one of their surprising performers in last year's training camp and spent the year on the practice squad. At 6'2", he has the size that the team seems to be looking for now in its corners.

More than likely, Dallas will ride with this group in 2019 with no big changes. I do think a Lewis trade is possible, especially with the Cowboys short on draft picks this year. But don't expect any major cap space or draft capital to go at one of the team's more solid positions.

With all the other work Dallas needs done this offseason, a little stability at cornerback is a luxury.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Center

Jess Haynie

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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Center
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Even with Dez Bryant's release and Jason Witten's retirement, the loss of Travis Frederick last season may have been the most damaging to the Dallas Cowboys. The team looks forward to getting their All-Pro center back in 2019 while also having a reliable backup still under contract.

Just within the last few weeks, Frederick has provided encouraging updates on his status for next year. It looks like he'll be able to participate in all offseason activities, but the Cowboys would settle for Week One. There appears to be plenty of cushion for that to happen.

Travis' absence in 2018 was seen in various ways. Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times, second-most in all the league, after just 32 and 25 times the previous two seasons. Part of that is missing Frederick's blocking ability, but also the way he would assist with reading the defense and making pre-snap adjustments.

Dallas would've loved having Frederick out there to help Guard Connor Williams, who worked with Travis throughout the offseason only to lose him in late August. It was not an easy way for the rookie to start his career.

We also saw issues in the run game. Even while Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing, short-yardage situations weren't as easy as they used to be. The Rams were able to neutralize the Cowboys' rushing attack in Dallas' playoff loss, something that Frederick might have helped overcome.

Joe Looney

Dallas Cowboys G/C Joe Looney

This isn't saying that Joe Looney did a bad job. On the contrary, Looney was more than adequate and helped keep Dallas from suffering far greater damage without Frederick.

After Joe's work in 2018, Dallas won't blink at keeping him on the $1 million salary he's due next year. It's a bargain for a backup of his quality, and especially given his versatility as an option at guard as well.

Not only are Frederick and Looney locked in for 2019, but Dallas also still has backup Adam Redmond under contract through next season. He was added after final cuts last year to be Looney's backup and should return to at least help the team through July and August.

With these guys already in place, there's no reason to think that Dallas will give much attention to the center position during the offseason.

At most, a mid-round draft pick might be used on a player who could potentially replace Looney in 2020 as the backup. Joe's contract ends next season, and he could be competitive for starting jobs with other teams at that point.

With lots of other concerns throughout the roster, Dallas is fortunate to have so much security at center. All signs are positive on Travis Frederick's return, and that is a huge boost to the team as it looks to push forward from last year's playoff run.



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