The Eagles (4-9-1) are in dead last in the NFC East but still have a chance to pull out the division title. But they’ll need to start with a win over the Cowboys (5-9) in North Texas.
Here are five matchups to watch:
Washington vs. Carolina
One of the biggest matchups to watch on Sunday will be on the scoreboard. Because an Eagles win means nothing if Washington wins also. In order for the Eagles to stay alive in the NFC East race, they’ll need Washington to lose to Carolina. Initially, this was scheduled as a 1 p.m. game but it was moved to a 4:05 p.m. kickoff so it’s starting just 20 minutes before the Eagles-Cowboys game.
“We know that we've been in those situations before, but I would prefer to go into a game not knowing, you know,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I think it does give you a level of concentration and focus that you need going into a football game. Listen, our guys, once we tee it up on Sunday, we're all about the game, we're into the game, we're coaching and playing, and we'll see what happens at the end.”
The other part of this is that the Giants play the Ravens and that game stayed in the 1 p.m. slot. Washington can clinch the division title this week if they win and the Giants lose. So there’s a shot Washington will have a better sense of their place by kickoff than the Eagles do.
Amari Cooper vs. Michael Jacquet
The Eagles will have Darius Slay back in the lineup this week after he cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and that will obviously help against the trio of Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb. It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles attack the Cowboys in this game. Because in the first two meetings, it actually looked like the Eagles had Slay traveling with Gallup instead of Cooper for a lot of that game.
But the Eagles also had their CB2 Avonte Maddox in Week 8 and they won’t have him on Sunday. So if Slay travels with Gallup again, it means Jacquet will end up on Cooper or Lamb on Sunday. No matter what the Eagles do, it’s not an easy task for the rookie out of Louisiana.
Despite DeAndre Hopkins’ success last week, Jacquet played a pretty good game and battled a guy who is arguably the best receiver in the league.
Matt Pryor vs. DeMarcus Lawrence
In his two starts at right tackle this season, Pryor has simply looked overmatched and now he’s about to face one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. This could be a disaster.
Pryor, in those two starts at RT, has allowed 4 sacks, 8 hurries and 12 pressures. The problem is that the Eagles don’t have many other options. They could go with Brett Toth, the Army kid who never pass blocked in college. They have newcomer Ross Pierschbacher, who is an interior lineman. And on the practice squad they have Prince Tega Wanogho and Casey Tucker. I guess if they had to go with someone else, maybe it’d be Tega, but he might not be ready. I guess the Eagles could move Isaac Seumalo to right tackle too but then they’d really be shuffling that line.
Meanwhile, Lawrence has been playing very well again. He’s up to 5 1/2 sacks on the season with 4 forced fumbles and 10 TFLs. He has a chance to wreck this game.
Miles Sanders vs. Cowboys’ run defense
Sanders is very good and the Cowboys’ run defense is not. In fact, the Cowboys have the worst run defense in the league. Here’s how that Cowboys’ run D ranks in the NFL:
Yards per attempt: 31st
They Cowboys have given up 100+ rushing yards in five straight games and in 12 of 14 games this season.
The last time these two teams played, Miles Sanders was injured and Boston Scott went for 70 yards on 15 carries and even Corey Clement added 24 on 5. If Pederson sticks with the run on Sunday, Sanders should have a very big game.
Cowboys’ OTs vs. Eagles’ defensive ends
The Eagles will be without Josh Sweat in this game and that hurts but expect to see Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry and maybe even Genard Avery get some consistent edge pressure in this game.
For as much as we’ve talked about the Eagles’ OL being banged up this year, the Cowboys have lost some important pieces too. They’ve been without Tyron Smith and La’El Collins and it’s shown.
Coming into this game, Brandon Knight and Terence Steele are the Cowboys’ starting tackles. Knight is at left tackle and Steele is at right. Out of 83 qualified tackles, ProFootballReference ranks Steele at No. 80 and Knight at No. 81.
In 14 games, Steele has given up 8 sacks and 41 pressures. Knight in 9 games has given up 3 sacks and 27 pressures.
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