Five Eagles to watch in tonight’s rivalry showdown against Cowboys


The Eagles are just a few hours away from a bitter clash against the Dallas Cowboys. A win will all but seal the NFC East and gift it to Philadelphia, but it won’t be easy. Dak and the Cowboys have their backs to the wall and any rivalry game has the potential to get ugly, fast. With that in mind, here are five Eagles who will be instrumental to ensuring that doesn’t happen.


Jay Ajayi:
After exploding to lead the team in rushing yards on his Eagles debut, Ajayi is arguably in a more dangerous spot than ever. His first touchdown as an Eagle was also his first of the year. With a bye-week acting as the perfect opportunity to get down the rest of the playbook, Ajayi is in the perfect position to build on his 8 carries for 77 yards.

The Cowboys will be hurting without Sean Lee and with so many threats in the backfield alone, Ajayi will be licking his lips at a chance to perform in the stadium of the team his family grew up supporting. It will be interesting to see just how much attention Ajayi sees from the Pederson today, but he will no doubt have a huge part to play in sustaining drives and taking the load off of LeGarrette Blount.


Ronald Darby:
This one goes without saying. After being sidelined since week one due to an ankle injury, Ronald Darby is back and although it’s unclear just how much action he will see this evening, he is a part of the Eagles secondary once again. The Cowboys will be forced to rely on the pass without Zeke or their star left tackle which puts heavy pressure on the Eagles secondary to keep the likes of Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant in check. Darby may not play the entire game, but expect his presence to be felt early and often as the Eagles look to set the tone.


Zach Ertz:
Ertz missed last game due to an injury, being ruled out just hours before kickoff. The Eagles leading receiver is back with a vengeance however and with the Cowboys missing Sean Lee, will be in a prime spot to have a field day. Ertz has nine more receptions than Alshon Jeffery this season and leads the team across the board in receiving. The Eagles were able to patch the wound last week with help from Brent Celek and Trey Burton, but Dallas have already shown a tendency to struggle against tight ends this season, so expect that trend to continue with the pride of Stanford back in the lineup.


Derek Barnett:
If the Cowboys offensive line continues to waiver with the loss of Tyron Smith, then the Eagles pass rush will have a field day. Dallas will be looking to use the likes of Jason Witten and Alfred Morris in added pass-protection looks, likely stacking the left side to give Dak as much help as possible…but a versatile group of defensive ends could wreak havoc on both sides of the pocket…something that bodes well for the Eagles’ first round pick this year.

Barnett has 2.5 sacks and 9 tackles in his last four games as his development spikes week after week. Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry are going to attract plenty of attention, but if the Cowboys struggle to keep even Atlanta’s pass-rush contained, then the Tennessee standout could find himself “flexing” on Dallas in more ways than one.


Carson Wentz:
How could we not mention the leader of this year’s MVP race? Wentz vs Dak is one of the most talked about matchups of the season and it has all the makings of a classic. Wentz leads the league in passing touchdowns and has been absolutely sensational this season. If the Eagles are going to blast through this Dallas team and come out swinging as they have with touchdowns on 10/18 opening two drives this year, then it’s going to be down to Wentz to rally the troops and fire up the locker room. The team fully believe in their quarterback and it’s reciprocated. Under the Sunday Night Lights, Wentz faces one of his biggest games yet…and it’s one where he’s positioned to shine the brightest he ever has.


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports