The Eagles (6-6) are heading to North Texas for a huge division showdown against the Cowboys (7-5) for first place in the NFC East.
According to FiveThirtyEight, if the Eagles win this game, they’ll have a 57 percent chance to make the playoffs. If they lose, they’d have an 8 percent chance. So, yeah, this is a huge game.
Here are five matchups to watch Sunday:
Zeke Elliott vs. Eagles’ defense
The last time these two teams played in November, Elliott ran wild. He carried the ball 19 times for 151 yards with a touchdown and caught six passes for 36 yards and another score. Statistically, the Eagles still have the 10th-best run defense in the league, giving up 103.7 yards per game, but their standard has fallen off from earlier in the season.
This is the most obvious one, but stopping Zeke would go a long way in slowing down the Cowboys. If the Eagles can put the game on Dak Prescott, they’d have a much better shot at sneaking out of Texas with a win. That’s no easy task, especially because two of the Eagles’ starting linebackers have broken hands and it’s already hard enough to get Zeke to the ground.
Amari Cooper vs. Rasul Douglas
Since getting him before the trade deadline, Cooper has given the Cowboys an offensive weapon they hadn’t had since Dez Bryant was in his prime. In the first meeting between these two teams, Cooper had six catches for 75 yards, but since then, he had that huge breakout game against the Redskins.
Jalen Mills is still on the shelf, so Douglas is likely to get another start Sunday. He had an up-and-down game against Washington. He struggled in coverage at times but made some really important tackles at other times. This season has been up and down for Douglas and this will be a tough test in the most important game of the year.
Lane Johnson vs. DeMarcus Lawrence
Over the last few weeks, as he has gotten further away from that high ankle sprain and MCL sprain, Johnson has begun to look like himself again. That’s great news for the Eagles because when Johnson is on the top of his game, he’s the best right tackle in football. And Lawrence is about as good a test as there is in the NFL.
Lawrence leads the Cowboys with 9 1/2 sacks and is about to go double digits for the second straight season. He can get after the quarterback, but he’s also really good against the run. He’s become a complete player and can wreck a game.
Carson Wentz vs. Cowboys defense
It just feels like if the Eagles win this game, Wentz is going to need a big afternoon. Statistically, he had a good game in the first meeting. He threw for 360 yards and two touchdowns but also threw an interception on the Eagles’ second possession of the game that led to a field goal. He needs to avoid mistakes like that Sunday, especially after a bad INT against Washington this past weekend.
Dallas has a good defense, but Wentz needs to have a big game Sunday.
Josh Adams vs. Leighton Vander Esch
It’s pretty clear that Adams has ascended into his role as the Eagles’ top running back and that’s happened since the last time these two teams met. Adams has been running hard and has 42 carries for over 160 yards over the last two games. He has piled up a couple injuries during that stretch, but he’s going to be the guy again Sunday.
The Cowboys feature two young and athletic linebackers, but Vander Esch has really been the star. The first-round pick took over when Sean Lee went down with yet another injury and the Cowboys will never look back. He’s really good, but the Eagles have to stay committed to the run. I know I said Wentz needs to have a big game, but a balance will be an important part of that as well.
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