Know your enemy: The Eagles battle the Cowboys in a NFC East showdown

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Cowboys
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 22: Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks to pass in the second half during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles on December 22, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles are flying down to Dallas to take on the Cowboys for what was set to be the game of the year. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case this time around. Due to a shoulder injury that Jalen Hurts suffered against the Bears, the team is expected to start Gardner Minshew with hopes of a possible win that could lock up the number one seed in the NFC.

The Dallas Cowboys have quite a bit riding on this game. After last week’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Cowboys find themselves in a position where the division title may be out of reach.

Here’s all you need to know about the Eagles’ week 16 matchup against the Cowboys:

Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

Last Game: 40-34 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars

Offensive Ranking: 9th

Defensive Ranking: 8th

Head-to-Head Matchup: Dallas leads the all-time series 54-69

Dallas Cowboys Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Mike McCarthy

Offensive Coordinator: Kellen Moore

Defensive Coordinator: Dan Quinn

Special Teams Coordinator: John Fassel

Injury Report:

Dallas Cowboys: 

Questionable: CB Trevon Diggs (illness), DE Dorance Armstrong (knee), TE Jake Ferguson, (Concussion), LB Micah Parson (illness)

Out: LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck)

Philadelphia Eagles:

Questionable: WR Zach Pascal (concussion)

Out: QB Jalen Hurts (shoulder), TE Tyree Jackson (knee)

Offense:

What was once a very explosive offense has turned out to be one of the more inconsistent units in the league. QB Dak Prescott has seemingly lost a step this season as he’s thrown 11 interceptions and is averaging only 6.9 air yards per attempt which are the lowest of his career.

Luckily for the Cowboys, their running backs have been carrying the load due to the explosive ability of Tony Pollard and the strength of Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott has 10 rushing touchdowns on the season with 774 rushing yards while Pollard has pulled ahead of him with 969 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns.

The Eagles’ defense will have to turn their vulnerable run defense into a strength if they want to contain Pollard and Zeke. Although it has been an up-and-down season for the Cowboys’ offense, you can’t overlook the fact that they can still be dangerous when things start to click.

Defense:

The Cowboys’ defense hasn’t been where they want to be. They have an open competition for the CB2 position and they’ve lost all of their capable corners outside of Trevon Diggs. This will be a tough matchup for the secondary as the Eagles will try to exploit this weakness.

As for the defensive line, while Micah Parson has struggled a bit over the last couple of games, you can expect him to be heavily motivated against the Eagles. Philly exposed him during the first matchup and it helped their offense flow to a big first-half lead. 

With Gardner Minshew back there I would expect the ball to leave his hands quickly in hopes of avoiding any contact with Lawrence and Parson. Both of those guys can change the pace of the game in an instant.

X-factor:

The difference makers for both teams will be the running backs. Controlling the time of possession in this game where one QB is struggling and the other team is missing their star QB will be key. Zeke and Pollard can easily turn this game into a blowout if the Eagles aren’t careful.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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