Moving the chains: Cowboys vs Eagles preview

This is a key matchup early in the season where the Eagles must avenge a late season loss that prevented them from winning the division and making the playoffs despite a good 10-6 season (Even though a 7-8-1 Panthers team was involved but that’s another story) .  Today we are going to look into a few matchups and break down the showdown in Philly for this much needed win after a tough to swallow 0-1 start. The Eagles face a 1-0 Dallas Cowboys team who are coming off of a sloppy win over division rival New York Giants.

Leading the Cowboys into Philadelphia is Dallas quarterback Tony Romo who is among one of the top QB’s in the league statistically speaking, but what separates him from the rest is his ability to perform in the clutch. This ability was evident last week when he battled down the field in the final minute of the game to beat the New York Giants.

Dallas biggest weapon Dez Bryant will miss the game due to breaking a bone in his foot.  Filling in his slot is Terrence Williams, a speed receiver with decent hands and Cole Beasley who is normally the slot receiver.

Running the ball will be a committee but getting the majority of the carries is Joseph Randle who finished with 16 carries for 65 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

Dallas arguably has the best offensive line in the league and one of the best left tackles in Tyron Smith. Although they didn’t have staggering numbers in their running game this past week they did a lot of damage with their running backs out of the backfield with a lot of screens and intermediate passing plays, making Lance Dunbar lethal. The trio of Running backs produced 131 yards receiving against New York.  Dallas didn’t use the deep ball pass at all against New York, partly to the injury of Dez Bryant and the off game he was having.  Cole Beasley received 4 for 49 and  Terrence Williams went for 5 for 60, but their biggest threat last week and arguably this week was tight end Jason Whitten who ended last week by going 8 for 60 with 2 TD’s.

Now the Philadelphia Eagles will combat that with a solid front 7 and an average (Statistically speaking) secondary. If the likes of Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox (1 Sack), Vinny Curry could provide a good push to the great Dallas line and disrupt Tony Romo, this spells big trouble for Dallas.

The Eagles have more than enough weapons and athleticism along the linebacking core to stop the run and the threat of  Tight Ends going across the middle that Romo likes to utilize. The athletic Mychael Kendricks (Led the team with 10 tackles) and Kiko Alonzo (spectacular interception in the end zone) have great speed and elite skills to make Romo force balls into tight situations. Connor Barwin has the skill set to put a lot of pressure off the edge on Romo and great anticipation skills to deflect balls and cause turnovers.  Barwin has a great engine and runs through the whistle.  Brandon Graham will need to show something this game to prove his value to the defense and his off season contract.

Moving to the secondary Nolan Carroll held his own against the #2 Wide Receiver in Roddy White he needs a repeat performance against a lesser receiver in Beasley or Williams.  Eric Rowe needs to get into the box score and provide something for us proving he is taking over Brandon Boykin’s nickel back slot and fighting for that number two corner spot.

Now to a dicey situation last week, Byron Maxwell. He should be able to hold his own considering he won’t have to face Dez Bryant,  another elite WR right after his dismal display covering Julio Jones.  Maxwell needs to show up and make a statement this Sunday in the home opener.

One positive from Monday was that the Safety coverage  was great for the Eagles. Malcolm Jenkins had 7 tackles and 3 passes defended whilst Walter Thurmond had a key interception putting the Eagles in position to score. He also a great stop for a loss in another key situation.  The passing window should be much smaller for Tony Romo to throw the ball into due to Dez Bryant being out of the lineup and the Eagles athleticism.  Ultimately even with an elite offensive line I see the Eagles bringing pressure on different schemes by hitting a variety of gaps and stunts causing confusion along the Cowboys line.  Turnovers could be the biggest factor here as the Eagles need to force turnovers on a weakened Dallas Defense. Dallas showed they will turn the ball over under the right pressure as they put the ball on the ground 3 times against the Giants.

As we know Sam Bradford runs the show for Philly and the offense needs to strike early and often.  The Eagles need to prove they could run the ball much better after a quiet performance last week in Atlanta. The offensive line needs to open up holes and force the tempo of the game while tiring out the Dallas Defense.  Jason Peters is as solid as always and held down his spot as expected.

The interior line needs to open up holes and start controlling their man to create holes for Demarco Murray.  As Dallas fans will tell you, he does not have great break away speed but is a very tough runner. He needs to put in his work between the tackles and our offensive line needs to provide him the push.

A weak Dallas defensive line should make for a nice day for Murray and the added motivation of his former team coming to town, who didn’t want to reward him for his hard work.  Darren Sproles needs to keep up his productive output and we need to see a lot more from Ryan Matthews.

Receiving wise we spread the ball around well against Atlanta with 10 different receivers touching the ball.  Star receiver Jordan Matthews led the team with 10 receptions and averaged 10.2 per catch.  Bradford only threw the ball once over 20 yards however and that needs to change on Sunday. The Dallas corners are below average and need to be challenged, especially considering they are missing some key names.

Quarterback Sam Bradford needs to show he could hit the deep threat whether it’s Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, or Josh Huff having a break out game. The birds used the short to intermediate passing game like Dallas for success in week one, but mostly in the second half against Atlanta. The bottom line is that the Eagles need to keep the chains moving and score points like the offense is designed too.

The Dallas Defense is a very average unit that is hit with injuries and suspensions.  Rookie prospect Randy Gregory is out with injury whilst  Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain are suspended. That’s some big names the Cowboys depend on for defense.

The Texas residents run a traditional 4-3 Defense but occasionally switch it up to a 3-4 and show some different scheme packages. The team is lead by star LB and often injured Sean Lee who when healthy is very productive. A great motor, in on every play and plays through the whistle. Has a nose for the ball and also has a lot of slack to pick up due to injuries and suspensions along the Dallas defense.

The defensive line is anchored by Tyrone Crawford, Nick Hayden, Jeremy Mincey, and Demarcus Lawerence.  Linebackers are Sean Lee (9 Tackles,led team), Kyle Wilber, and Alex Hitchens(8 Tackles).  The corners are Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, and Bryan Jones (Rookie).   Safeties J.J. Wilcox, and Barry Church (8 Tackles).  The secondary is very beatable and inconsistent.

 

Prediction:   Eagles 27 – Cowboys 14

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