Eagles need to step up in 3 key areas in order to beat the Cowboys in week 14

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Eagles vs cowboys dolphins vs cowboys
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) tries to gain extra yardage for a first down during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Eagles vs Cowboys: Familiar foes will battle for a chance to win the division this weekend in a crucial primetime matchup on Sunday Night Football. 

The last time the Eagles played the Cowboys was a thrilling game that saw Jalen Hurts battling through a knee injury and lead the Eagle’s offense with 3 touchdowns, including 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to take the lead. 

The game came down to the last possession where Dallas had the ball inside the 10 then proceeded to move back 25 yards due to penalties, before making one last play as time expired. Dak completed a pass to Cee Dee Lamb a couple of yards short of the endzone.  

Ball game 28–23

Dak Attack

Dak is currently playing football at the highest level of his professional career and is now being mentioned as a strong contender for league MVP. Despite the loss, he had a great game the last time he faced the Eagles, throwing for 374 yards and 3 TDs. 

The defensive backs struggled mightily, particularly defending the slot. The Cowboys did a great job of moving Cee Dee Lamb around the formation and that contributed to his career-high 191 receiving yards. The only thing the Eagles’ defense did well against Lamb was keep him out of the endzone. Tight End Jake Ferguson also had a career game with 7 receptions for 91 yards and a TD. 

The Eagles’ linebackers have struggled all season but played particularly bad versus the 49ers which forced the Birds to look for immediate outside help at the position. 

Newly acquired Shaquille Leonard was brought in to bring some stability to the position and he will be tested early and often when he is on the field for Sunday night’s game. If he is not able to be effective, this could be a long day for Philadelphia.

Getting off the field

The Cowboys controlled the game by throwing for 19 first downs, but the Eagles’ defense held Dallas to converting only 6 of their 15 3rd down attempts. They will need that same success or better to be able to beat them in Arlington, but it will be hard to duplicate. 

The defense is allowing a league-worst 47.27% third down conversion rate on the season and over the last 3 weeks it has ballooned to 58%. 

They have allowed a 1st down on 23 of 33, 3rd and 4th down attempts in their last 2 games. 

Get Rid of the ball

Per PFF, Jalen Hurts has been pressured more than other QB in the NFL. Some of that is due to holding the ball too long, as their plethora of vertical routes develop. But some is due to the O-line. They are allowing the 28th highest amount of hurries and are 24th in allowing pressures. To be fair, Jalen Hurts had over 6 seconds to get rid of the ball on a few of these pass attempts last week, so there is enough blame to go around for these stats. 

Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts scores the game winning touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during overtime in an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Even so, the offensive line is one of the most invested positions on the team via draft picks and financial obligations and they are depended on to be their biggest strength. They will need to play better for this team to have a chance to win on Sunday and realize their Super Bowl aspirations. 

Key to Victory

The Eagles did well, especially in the 4th quarter, in making Dak very uncomfortable in the pocket when they faced one another a month ago. Reddick and Sweat combined for 13 pressures, 9 hurries, 2 QB hits, and 2 sacks. Defensive rookie of the year candidate, Jalen Carter, chipped in with a pressure and a sack despite being double-teamed much of the game and even tripled teamed on a couple of plays. In limited snaps, Brandon Graham shined in the big moment like he always does. He totaled 1.5 sacks & chased Dak out of bounds on a crucial 2-point conversion in the 4th quarter. 

The front four will have to be effective in providing a pass rush, without blitzing, for them to win again this Sunday.

I know, the blitz more crowd in Philadelphia loves to see a blitz dialed up, but the numbers paint a very different picture than what most fans believe.

Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick celebrates after sacking Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

In the last 2 weeks, Josh Allen and Brock Purdy averaged 13.5 yards per attempt when blitzed. In the loss to the Niners, Purdy was 10–10 for 213 yards including 3 TD passes when blitzed, and only 9–17 for 101 yards while also being sacked twice when the Eagles employed a four-man rush. 

Bright Spot

The Eagles should be getting Dallas Goedert back, who was injured when they last played a month earlier. It also appears that linebacker Zach Cunningham will return as well.

History

Dallas has won 14 straight home games and the Eagles have not won there since 2017. They have also not swept Dallas since 2011.  

The NFC East division winner is likely on the line and possibly the number one overall seed in the conference. 

The Eagles are coming off their worst loss in 2 years and everyone will be watching to see how they respond. This team has been good at saying the right things and taking accountability, but now it’s time to put all of that rhetoric into action and play championship football. 

As always, thank you for reading

David

Follow me on X @PHLEagleNews 

AP Photo/Chris Szagola