Know your Eagles enemy: The Dallas Cowboys

It’s Dallas Hate Week, but have you ever experienced a quieter week leading up to this game?

The Eagles and Cowboys finally do battle in 2019 on Sunday night as the top two teams in the NFC as everyone predicted them to be.

Wait, you mean it’s a battle of two underachieving 3-3 teams? Oh. 

Well whatever it is, the winner of this game will have sole possession of first place in the NFC East and will send the other team below .500. This is a HUGE game for both teams. Before we get into some of the game, let’s take a look at Dallas’ off-season:

Key additions: 

DE Robert Quinn (trade – Dolphins), DT Christian Covington (free agency – Texans), WR Randall Cobb (free agency – Packers), S George Iloka (free agency – Vikings), TE Jason Witten (un-retirement – ESPN)

Key departures: 

WRCole Beasley (free agency – Bills), DT David Irving (retirement/quit/got out before getting suspended), DE Randy Gregory (still on the team but he’s suspended indefinitely.  Kind of a trend for the Cowboys, isn’t it?), TE Geoff Swaim (free agency – Jaguars)

The Cowboys come into this game averaging 25.5 points per game (10th in the NFL), 443.7 yards per game (second in the NFL), 304.8 passing yards per game (third in the NFL), and 138.8 rushing yards per game (seventh in the NFL).

These numbers come from facing the following teams (stats beside each team are defensive rankings):

  • Giants: 26.7 PPG (27th), 412.3 YPG (28th), 285.0 passing YPG (31st), 127.3 rushing YPG (24th)
  • Redskins: 27.8 PPG (28th), 385.0 YPG (25th), 251.0 passing YPG (20th), 134.0 rushing YPG (28th)
  • Dolphins 36.0 PPG (32nd), 439.8 YPG (32nd), 270.2 passing YPG (26th), 169.6 rushing YPG (31st)
  • Saints 20.3 PPG (11th), 340.5 YPG (10th), 237.7 passing YPG (11th), 102.8 rushing YPG (14th)
  • Packers 19.2 PPG (9th), 363.8 YPG (21st), 239.3 passing YPG (13th), 124.5 rushing YPG (23rd)
  • Jets 24.6 PPG (21st), 357.8 YPG (19th), 262.0 passing YPG (21st), 95.8 rushing YPG (13th)

So, the Cowboys 3-0 start came against the 27th, 28th and 32nd ranked teams in points allowed per game. Their three losses come against two top defenses, and one average. Over-hyped? Not playing to their potential?  Whichever it is, the Cowboys have a chance to show who they really are against an Eagles defense that has the best (worst?) of all worlds. 

The Eagles defensive ranks:

  • Points per game: 24.8 (23rd)
  • Yards per game: 353.0 (14th)
  • Passing yards per game: 280.2 (29th – not last!)
  • Rushing yards per game: 72.8 (2nd)

As you can see, the Eagles make up for their deficiencies in the secondary by having an absolutely dominant run defense. However, despite locking down running backs like Dalvin Cook and Le’Veon Bell to well below their season averages, they’ve allowed quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins to look like Joe Montana. 

With Dak putting up 405, 269, 246, and 277 passing yards on the four teams in the 20’s of passing defense respectively, he hasn’t shown the consistency of tearing up poor passing defenses you’d like to see from an supposed elite quarterback. He did have a career-high 463 passing yards against Green Bay’s 11th ranked defense, but the Cowboys were playing from behind the whole game, so the game plan called for more passing. With Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb trending in the wrong direction for availability on Sunday, Michael Gallup, Tavon Austin, and Jason Witten will have to pick up the slack for the offensive hopes.

But if tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins cannot play again this Sunday, Dak may leave very bruised from the Eagles pass rush. 

The Cowboys defensive ranks:

  • Points per game: 19.0 (8th)
  • Yards per game: 331.8 (9th)
  • Passing yards per game: 238.0 (12th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 93.8 (12th)

Carson Wentz will be leading his offense against a pretty good Cowboys defense. However, the Cowboys may be without corners Byron Jones and Anthony Brown, so that 12th ranked secondary will be tested by a quarterback who has produced the second lowest rate of negative plays among quarterbacks this season:

Despite having that elite rate, Wentz hasn’t seen that production produce much because of the drops from his receivers. The Eagles currently have 17 drops, tied for the most in the NFL with the Cowboys, but the leader only has three (Goedert). So the drops are being spread around and none of the receivers are giving Wentz much help.

If the Eagles want to improve upon their 26.8 PPG (ninth in the NFL), 238.2 passing YPG (16th), and 11.1 yards per catch (19th), the receivers will need to find ways to actually catch the ball that Wentz throws to them (maybe a healthy DeSean Jackson could help with that – fingers crossed!)

For a history and prediction of the game, check out the next page!

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