Sun, 06 Dec 2020

Game Preview | Cowboys vs. Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles
31 Oct 2020, 18:12 GMT+10

Chris McPherson

From the keys to an Eagles win to a look at the important numbers, here is our Game Preview, presented by Unibet.

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro's 3 keys to an Eagles win

1. In the two wins for the Eagles this season, the defense produced six takeaways, evenly divided in the victories over San Francisco and New York. That's not a coincidence. In this game, against a Dallas offense that has staggered since quarterback Dak Prescott was injured, the Eagles need to pressure the line of scrimmage, shut down the running game, and make the Cowboys a one-dimensional attack. The Eagles have a huge advantage with their defensive line. They have to dominate and create havoc and give the back seven players a chance to get their hands on the football.

2. Dallas is a wounded animal coming into this game, so the best thing to do in such an instance is to put the animal out of its misery. That means getting a lead on the Cowboys from the start and not giving Dallas any feeling it can win. The opening-drive touchdown against the Giants was the first at home for the Eagles this season. That was a good thing. The Eagles then squandered the lead, something they can't repeat in this prime-time game. Get up on Dallas, stay up, and put the Cowboys away.

3. Ezekiel Elliott's numbers in six career games against the Eagles are impressive: A 5-1 record, 4.7 yards-per-carry average with 621 rushing yards, and two touchdowns, along with 38 receptions for 278 yards and a touchdown. As dangerous as the Cowboys are at wide receiver with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, Elliott is what makes everything go. So, the Eagles need to stop him and not let Dallas use its hammer on the defense. Dallas will try to ride Elliott with 25 to 30 touches in this game, so the Eagles must swarm him and keep their focus on where he is.

Scouting Report

Eagles Insider Mike Quick on quarterback Carson Wentz: "His ability to extend plays, to create those explosive plays, is a big element for this offense going forward."

Eagles Game Plan analyst Greg Cosell says the Eagles must account for blitzes from the Dallas defensive backs: "The Cowboys have really struggled with their assignments. They've struggled with individuals not executing assignments. But they still have to go into this game making sure that Carson Wentz does not beat them getting outside the pocket because Wentz is really dangerous doing it."

Quick looks for the Eagles to confuse the Cowboys with pre-snap motion: "That seems to be a problem for the Cowboys. They get out of place a lot. That defense is giving up more runs of 10-plus yards than any team in the National Football League and it's because they get their eyes caught in the wrong places. With the motions and the shifts, I think that the Eagles will be able to do the same."

Eagles Game Plan analyst Ike Reese on the Cowboys' defensive struggles: "It's not due to having a lack of talent on that side of the ball. When you look at the Dallas Cowboys defense you have to start up front with DeMarcus Lawrence. He's the multi-Pro Bowl player. He's the guy who is the big-money player over there for them. The thing that they're doing different with DeMarcus Lawrence this year is that he not just going to line up to the right of your offense over your right tackle at left defensive end. They're using him on both sides of their defense and he's been a game-wrecker for them."

Cosell says to watch the Cowboys operate out of empty formations: "This is the kind of thing the Cowboys will have to do in order to generate any kind of pass offense because quite honestly they're overmatched with their offensive line against the Eagles' defensive front. The Eagles know this too. This is one of the big chess matches on this side of the ball."

Reese on countering the Cowboys' quick pass game: "You want to cloud the picture, not just for the quarterback, but also for that offensive line as to how do you set the protection when you expect the Eagles to bring extra rushers. ... You want to give the illusion that you're going to bring extra pressure. You want that ball to come out fast, you want to be able to cloud the picture for the quarterback as well as get in these passing lanes, and you're hoping for tips and overthrows that lead to turnovers."

Matchups to watch

Ike Reese's Matchup to Watch: Darius Slay vs. Amari Cooper

"That's really why you pay guys like Darius Slay the money that you pay him. When you think about the No. 1 wide receivers that the Eagles have faced this year, and when Darius Slay has been matched up on them, they've been eliminated from the game plan. I'm looking forward to this. One of the No. 1 shutdown corners in the league going up against one of the top wide receivers in the league. If Darius Slay can continue to do what he's done this year against the opposing team's No. 1 wideout, it should be a good day for the Philadelphia Eagles."

• Cooper had four catches for 42 yards on 12 targets in games against Detroit in 2015 and 2019.

Mike Quick's matchup to watch: Eagles defensive line vs. Cowboys offensive line

"When I look at this football game, I look at the trenches. The offensive line of the Cowboys, there's no La'el Collins. There's no Tyron Smith. You got Zack Martin. You don't know where he's going to play, but the offensive line, I think, can be had. Jim Schwartz will move Fletcher Cox around to try and find a soft spot in that offensive line of the Cowboys. And they're going to attack. He'll move Brandon Graham around. He'll move Vinny Curry around. ... I think that's the matchup that's going to make the difference in this football game."

• The Eagles are tied for third in the league with 24 sacks.

By the numbers

34.7 - The Cowboys allow a league-worst 34.7 points per game. Since 2000, no team has allowed more than 32.3 in a season.

178.3 - The Cowboys allow a league-worst 178.3 rushing yards per game. The last time a team allowed more than 172 in a season was 2008 (Detroit Lions, 172.1).

99.4 - Carson Wentz has a career 99.4 passer rating against the Dallas Cowboys.

101.9 - The Cowboys rank 24th in the league with 101.9 rushing yards per game. This is a rushing attack that's been in the top 10 each year since Ezekiel Elliott was drafted No. 4 overall in 2016.

357 - Wide receiver Travis Fulgham's 357 receiving yards are the second most in the league since he was promoted from the practice squad. They're also the second most in an Eagle's first four games since Terrell Owens in 2004.

40 - Brandon Graham will start in his 40th consecutive game on Sunday, tied for the second-longest active streak among NFC defensive ends.

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