It seems like just a few weeks ago we were sitting here talking about a big matchup between two teams struggling to salvage their playoff hopes. Actually, not much has changed for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys in terms of those odds but it’s always fun when these two teams get together because of their disdain for one another.
The Eagles are on the wrong kind of a streak, they are now 3-8 and have lost seven games in a row. At this point it appears as though Andy Reid is just coaching out the season and will be let go when it’s over. The Cowboys are still clinging to their playoff hopes and probably need to win out to have a chance.
The NFL deemed this rivalry game still prime time-worthy and it will be seen on Sunday night with most of America watching as two underachievers battle it out. For the Cowboys, this game will not come down to three things; if they just do these three things, they should win this game without any problems, which of course, is usually a problem.
The first thing the Cowboys need do is play with a sense of urgency from the start of the game. Not at the start of the second half, not after trailing by 17 points or anytime they feel like it. Dallas is coming off of an extended break and is on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs so if they can’t be ready to play a game against the Eagles with their season on the line, again, then this team in lost.
Their focus and energy needs to start from the opening kickoff and they cannot afford to be trailing by too many points after another slow start. I know Jason Garrett has talked about starting faster, so we’ll see if those are empty words or if the coach is getting through to his players.
The second thing Dallas needs to do to beat the Eagles is to stop the run. Bryce Brown had a monster game on Monday night against the Carolina Panthers and stopping the Eagles’ best weapon is a must. If they can stop Brown and put the game on Nick Foles‘ arm, the Cowboys should have no problem winning. Slowing Brown would mean the Eagles would have to throw the ball and that plays right into the Cowboys’ hands.
Stopping the Philly run game helps in a few ways: it allows the Cowboys to force a rookie quarterback who isn’t quite ready yet to pass on a Rob Ryan defense that does a good job of disguising its looks. Ryan should be able to confuse Foles and get a few turnovers. It also allows the Cowboys’ pass rushers to attack Foles behind a shaky Philly offensive line. If DeMarcus Ware wants to have a breakout game and show everyone that he does actually still play, this is the game.
Lastly, the Cowboys need to have balance on offense. Sure, it would be helpful if the Cowboys weren’t down a ton of points and didn’t need to throw the ball to get back into the game, but they still need to run the ball more often. Dallas hopes to have DeMarco Murray back which should help a struggling running game but I can’t see him getting extended playing time so no matter who carries the ball, they need to be effective.
Hopefully with a full compliment of running backs and a stable running game, the Cowboys will slow the pass rush by the Eagles and allow Tony Romo to make big pass plays against a lackluster Philly secondary. They have been giving up big plays and Sunday should be no different.
I know it doesn’t seem like the Cowboys have to do much to beat the Eagles but nothing could be further from the truth. The Cowboys have had a very difficult time doing anything well this year and putting together these three keys to winning the game would signal improvement.
If the Cowboys defeat the Eagles this week, it will likely be because of these keys. I like Dallas to win and keep its faint playoff hopes alive.
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