Although the NFC East lead will be on the line Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles meet the Dallas Cowboys, neither defense holds the clout of a first place team. Philadelphia ranks last in the NFL in total defense, allowing the opposition more than 420 yards per game, but the Cowboys are not far behind, ranking 30th and allowing more than 413 yards per game. Each of the teams are stronger against the run than the pass, but neither ranks in the top ten in either category. The teams will spend much of the day trying to bend just enough to give their offense a chance to take advantage without breaking, but turnovers may be the big story by days end.
Realistically, it will be the offenses that see much of the headlines and spotlight during Sunday’s first place showdown.
The Eagles remain close to the top of the league in most offensive categories, including producing nearly 450 yards of total offense each week. With the league’s leading rusher, LeSean McCoy, and second most potent wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, they seem to hold a bit of an advantage as far as star power is concerned. The major question which will remain for Philadelphia well into the week is, which quarterback will take the snaps behind center? Both Michael Vick and Nick Foles bring their own style and skill set to the game, and create different matchup problems for the Dallas defense. Regardless of who leads Chip Kelly’s offense, the Eagles can be potent.
The Dallas offense is not quite as notable as Philadelphia, although they do average more points per game than the Eagles. Tony Romo has continued to be the mainstay at quarterback, and has had a strong beginning to the season. He has still run into some of the turnover problems that have plagued him in the past, but using his offensive weapons has allowed him to overcome much of the problem.
Sunday could turn into an offensive shootout very quickly, with little help coming from either team on the defensive side of the ball. A few stops from either defensive or some inconsistency from either offense could be the difference between getting a leg up in the division or falling behind and having to play catch-up.