5 key matchups Eagles need to win to beat Cowboys

USA Today Images

5 key matchups Eagles need to win to beat Cowboys

The Eagles didn't play last weekend but they still gained ground in the NFC East as all three teams lost. 

The Cowboys were one of them, falling to the Falcons 27-7 in Atlanta. 

But the Cowboys (5-4) will still be a tough test for the Eagles (8-1). This is a nationally televised Sunday night game down in Jerry's World. 

The Eagles are favored, but winning these matchups would go a long way in helping them get a win:

Cole Beasley vs. Patrick Robinson 
Beasley's numbers are way down this season. He has just 24 catches for 188 yards. The little shifty slot receiver is a tough matchup for Malcolm Jenkins, but Robinson seems much better equipped to shut him down in the slot. 

Remember, Beasley had a nine-catch 112-yard, two touchdown game against the Eagles in 2015. 

"[Beasley] looks exactly the same," Eagles DC Jim Schwartz said. "He's tough. He's a tough out. He's quick. He runs great routes. He's got speed to get down the field. I think that's one thing that's underestimated with him. He's a little bit sneaky, but he can get down the field too. " 

While it's easy to forget about Beasley on a team with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten and Ezekiel Elliott (when he's not suspended), Beasley has the ability to hurt teams. He's done it to the Eagles in the past. 

Jason Witten vs. Malcolm Jenkins 
Witten is 35 years old and he's not the Pro Bowl player he once was. But he still has 42 catches for 378 yards and three touchdowns this season, so the Eagles can't sleep on him. 

This season, the Eagles have given up some yards to tight ends — 47 catches for 500 yards and four touchdowns. Just nine teams have given up more yards to opposing tight ends. 

But this is a much more manageable matchup for Jenkins than covering the shifty Beasley. Jenkins means so much to the Eagles and this weekend will prove another reason why. 

Lane Johnson vs. Demarcus Lawrence 
Two weeks ago, Johnson did a great job against Von Miller when the Broncos were in town. Things don't get any easier for him this week. Now, he'll go against Lawrence, who leads in the NFL with 11 1/2 sacks in nine games. Lawrence has just one game this season without a sack — it came against Kansas City a couple weeks ago. 

When the Eagles elected to keep Johnson on the right side after Jason Peters' injury, this matchup against Lawrence was one of the reasons why. Miller, Lawrence and Khalil Mack were the names thrown out because they all typically line up on the right tackle. For most games, that's an advantage. Against the Eagles, it's a pretty clear disadvantage because Johnson has been playing at a Pro Bowl level. 

Zeke-less 'Boys vs. top run D
The Cowboys are without Elliott this week and that's an absolutely huge loss for them. Elliott will be back by the time the regular season finale comes around, but he won't play Sunday thanks to his six-game suspension that finally kicked in last weekend. 

Alfred Morris was once a two-time Pro Bowler in Washington but he's just simply not Elliott. He's actually averaging 6.8 yards per attempt after just 25 carries this season, but we'll see what his numbers look like after a few more weeks. 

This week, he'll have a really tough test against the Eagles, who have the best run defense in the NFL. They've given up just 66.4 yards per game on the ground. The Eagles are the first team to give up fewer than 600 yards on the ground through nine games since the 2010 Steelers. They're just the 11th team in NFL history to do it. 

And teams just aren't running against them anymore (see story). But if the Cowboys can't run, it would put a lot of pressure on Dak Prescott to carry the team, something he hasn't really been asked to do so far in his career. 

Zack Martin vs. Fletcher Cox 
Martin is one of the best offensive guards in football, but he actually gave up a sack last week. It was the first sack of the season he gave up after he gave up just two all last season and one in each of the two previous years. Martin has given up just five sacks in his four-year career, according to ProFootballFocus. 

It doesn't happen very often, but Cox is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. It's obviously not all about sacks, Cox can change a game by simply getting pressure. The problem is that Martin doesn't give up much pressure either — just five QB hurries and one QB hit all season. 

The interesting part of this matchup is that teams elect to double Cox so often, but with an All-Pro guard against him, the Cowboys are much more likely to leave him 1-on-1. This is a heavyweight bout. 

Bonus matchup
It looks like Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith won't be able to play on Sunday night. That's a big deal because Chaz Green and Byron Bell were worked over against the Falcons — Bell will reportedly get the start on Sunday. Keep any eye on Vinny Curry and Derek Barnett in this game. They might have a chance to do some damage.

Thank Carson Wentz (and 1 other thing) for landing Mike Wallace

Thank Carson Wentz (and 1 other thing) for landing Mike Wallace

During the 2016 season, Mike Wallace thought his Baltimore Ravens were going to steamroll the Eagles, who had a first-year head coach and first-year quarterback. 

He was wrong. 

Sure, the Ravens were able to sneak away with a 27-26 win back on Dec. 18, 2016, but Wallace watched up close as the gutsy Carson Wentz had the Eagles one two-point conversion at the end of the game away from walking out of Baltimore with a win. 

A year and a half later, when Wallace was testing free agency, the veteran receiver thought back to that game and thought to himself, “I want to play with that guy.” 

So how responsible is Wentz for Wallace’s landing in Philly? 

“Ninety-nine percent. Ninety-nine,” Wallace said at his introductory press conference on Friday afternoon after signing a one-year contract. “The other percent was the rest of the team. I’m impressed by the way he plays football, the way he moves in the pocket, the way he throws the football and his competitiveness. You can see it.”

Wallace, 31, continued to watch Wentz during the 2017 season, when the second-year quarterback was seemingly on his way to an MVP award before a serious knee injury landed him on injured reserve.  

Having been through changing teams before, Wallace said the most difficult part for him is learning the new quarterback. He hopes this process won’t take exceedingly long, but he and Wentz might be at a disadvantage. Wentz is still recovering from a torn ACL and LCL and might not be ready until the season opener, if that. 

“You can just work on that watching film and things like that, but until he gets out there, there’s no real way to simulate it,” Wallace said. “I think he’s a great young quarterback who’s fired up. Whatever extra reps we need to try to get up to speed, I’m all for it.”

Wentz is, of course, a part of the big reason Wallace decided to join the Eagles. Wallace has played nine seasons in the NFL with four different teams. He’s made money, but he hasn’t been able to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. That’s what he wants. 

On Friday, Wallace said he turned down more money to join the Eagles. 

“I had options but I just wanted the best chance,” Wallace said. “I feel like this is my best opportunity to make a run. This is my 10th year. Can’t play this game forever. You don’t want to come out feeling empty. I want to get a ring.”

Wallace had been a free agent twice before this offseason and he admitted, that when he was younger, free agency was about money. He signed a five-year, $60 million deal in 2013 to join the Dolphins. 

But now, Wallace said, his family is secure. He’s made a lot of money in the NFL to make sure those close to him are well off. Now, he’s allowing himself to make a decision that benefits him. 

“I didn’t try to come into this game to leave empty-handed,” he said. “I had to secure the bag and I did that. Now it’s time to secure a ring.”

Warrant issued for Michael Bennett's arrest

Warrant issued for Michael Bennett's arrest

Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett has been indicted for a felony charge in Harris County, Texas, the Harris County district attorney's office announced on Friday afternoon.

Because of the indictment, a warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest. According to the release, prosecutors are working with Bennett's lawyers to coordinate a surrender.

Bennett is being charged with "injury to the elderly, included intentionally and knowingly, causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older." The penalty for the charge is up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The felony charge is for injuring a 66-year-old paraplegic woman who was working at NRG Stadium last year during Super Bowl LI, when Bennett was there to watch his brother Martellus play in the game. The Patriots played the Falcons in Super Bowl LI in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.  

Bennett, 32, allegedly "shoved his way on to the field" during the postgame celebration, when the elderly worker told him to use a different way for field access. Instead, the district attorney's office said, Bennett pushed through workers, including the elderly disabled woman.

Neither the Eagles nor the Seahawks knew about the incident, a league source told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn. Bennett has been an Eagle officially for just over a week.

During a news conference on Friday afternoon, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo asked Bennett to turn himself in as quickly as possible, calling Bennett "morally bankrupt" and entitled. Acevedo said there is no video of the incident, but there is a police officer eye-witness.

Acevedo said Bennett forcibly opened locked doors to get onto the field and then pushed his way past three workers. One was a male, one was a 28-year-old female and one was a 66-year-old female, who sustained a sprained shoulder. The 66-year-old female is a paraplegic and the force of being pushed back in her motorized wheelchair is what injured her. Acevedo said the woman needed medication prescribed to her because of the alleged assault.

According to Acevedo, Bennett said, "Ya'll must know who I am, and I could own this motherf-----. I'm going on the field whether you like it or not," as he pushed past the women.

A police officer, called "Officer Morgan" by Acevedo, the same one who saw the alleged incident, then tried to stop Bennett, but Bennett disregarded him, saying "f--- you." The officer then decided to tend to the woman instead of pursuing the suspect, as he thought Bennett no longer posed a threat.

The extended time between the incident and the indictment was explained by Acevedo as a lack of resources. He said the department decided to handle cases that put citizens in danger. This was pushed to the back burner. He also said it was exceedingly difficult to get in touch with Bennett.

"Mr. Bennett may think because he's an NFL player and because some time passed he may have thought rules don't apply to him," Acevedo said. "No. 2 he doesn't have to respect the dignity of a paraplegic woman trying to earn a living. He may believe he doesn't have to answer to a police officer trying to detain him, but I'm here to say I'm very proud of the fact our department took this case as seriously as we should have."

The Eagles released the following statement on Friday afternoon:

"We are aware of the situation involving Michael Bennett and are in the process of gathering more information. Because this is an ongoing legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time."

The Eagles officially traded for Bennett on March 14. They sent receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round pick to Seattle for Bennett and a seventh-rounder.