The Eagles are riding a lot of momentum into Sunday’s game with the Cowboys after beating up the Giants last week at the Linc. I expected the game with the Giants to be close but the Eagles came out on a mission and dominated all aspects of the game. There was emergence in the run game without Brian Westbrook and we got to see yet another act of the DeSean Jackson show. The winner of this matchup will determine who stands on top of the NFC East.
Here’s some quick team stats and league rankings:
Points per game: 28.1 (6th)
Yards per game: 411.1 (2nd)
Pass yards per game: 263.6 (7th)
Rush yards per game: 147.6 (6th)
Points per game: 19.4 (10th)
Yards per game: 342.1 (22nd)
Pass yards per game: 237.1 (22nd)
Rush yards per game: 105 (13th)
Tony Romo – Romo is the type of guy that can light it up if he is given time to drop back and throw but also is quick to implode if you get in his face. The Eagles have had pretty good luck against him in the past and I think it’s because they like to blitz him and try to get him flustered early. He doesn’t like taking a big hit so he will force the ball if there’s a lot of people in his face. This results in turnovers and has been what the Eagles have doing for most of the year. I look for the Eagles to play him the same way they did Eli Manning and look to see a few interceptions.
Running backs – The Cowboys have had their fair share of injuries at the running back position this year but have incredible depth. Between Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice, you basically have three guys capable of being a starting running back. They all have their own running styles but all know what they’re doing. To me, the biggest threat is Jones who has incredible quickness and can bust a huge play open at any time. I’ve been happy with the Eagles run defense this year and think they will be able to handle the Cowboys three-headed monster.
Wide Receivers – Although Roy Williams was supposed to be the star after the departure of T.O., Miles Austin has quickly stolen the spotlight over the past few weeks. With those among 20+ catches, Austin leads the league in average yards per catch (just ahead of DeSean Jackson). He has quickly become one of Romo’s favorite targets as Williams has struggled to get things going.
Jason Witten – We’ve seen this guy enough to know that he’s an incredible talent. This doesn’t fair well for the Eagles who always seem to struggle to cover the tight end position. Witten also tends to be where Romo looks first a lot of the time as well. The Eagles are really going to need to button down and not allow Witten to have a big game. He is the kind of guy who finds the way to get open on third downs and keep drives alive. Our defense can’t let him do this on Sunday.
DeMarcus Ware – After not having a sack in his first four games, Ware has recorded five sacks in his last three games, as well as a forced fumble. With the 3-4 defense the Cowboys run, there’s no guarantee where he’s going to be coming from every play. Our offensive line is going to really have to shut Ware down and keep him as far away from Donovan McNabb as possible. If he is living in the backfield all day, it’s going to make for a long game.
3-4 Defense – This isn’t the first time the Eagles have seen a 3-4 defense this year, but this might be the most talented one they’re going to see. Dallas loves to rush the passer out of this formation and will definitely look to get McNabb after seeing what he did last week when he had good time. If the Eagles can establish some sort of run presence early, it will really help take some pressure off of McNabb. I also look for the Eagles to set up some screen plays so Donovan doesn’t have to hold the ball very long.
Secondary – Being ranked 22nd in passing defense, you know this isn’t the Cowboys strongest asset on defense. Their line will look to get to the quarterback fast to take some of the pressure off the secondary. However, you know the Eagles like to go up top and will take their fair share of chances Sunday night. I think the Birds will be able to hook down the field a couple times against this secondary given the weapons they have on offense.
Patrick Crayton – He is looking to set an NFL record against the Eagles and return a punt for a touchdown in his third consecutive game. Special teams can really break a game open, and the Eagles have played pretty well all year. The coverage unit will have to play well and make sure they all cover their lanes and come down the field under control. I wouldn’t mind seeing DeSean take some of the hype off Crayton and run a punt back of his own.
I must say that I was exciting for last weeks game against the Giants, but I’m even more excited for this one. The Eagles have a chance to go 3-0 in the division and be standing alone upon the NFC East. This game will be on national television show the Eagles can show the world how could they can really be. I absolutely cannot wait.