5 matchups to watch as Eagles visit Cowboys in Week 7

5 matchups to watch as Eagles visit Cowboys in Week 7

The Eagles (3-3) are heading to North Texas this weekend to face the Cowboys (3-3) in a game that will give us the leader in the NFC East. 

This is the first of two meetings between these two teams this year. As it has been in recent years, this game in Dallas is on Sunday Night Football. 

The Eagles lost by 18 points to the Vikings last week, but the Cowboys lost to the Jets and have dropped three in a row. Both teams really need this win. 

To the matchups: 

Ezekiel Elliott vs. Eagles' LBs

Zeke is still Zeke. Through six games, he has 491 rushing yards and five touchdowns to go along with 140 receiving yards. Just four players in the league have more touches than Elliott this season and since he entered the league in 2016, Elliott has more than anyone. The Cowboys have always, and still do, feed him the rock. 

While the Eagles were gashed through the air, they actually held up pretty well against the Vikings’ rushing attack last week. The Vikings finished with 122 yards, but Dalvin Cook had just 41. Elliott is obviously a much different runner. Through six weeks, the Eagles have the NFL’s second-best rushing defense, giving up 68.0 yards per game. But they just cut Zach Brown and now Nigel Bradham (ankle) is banged up. That means a very different-looking linebacker corps against Elliott. That’s a lot of pressure on Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry and T.J. Edwards. 

And as you probably already know, Elliott is 4-0 against the Eagles in his career. In those four games, he has averaged 115.8 yards per game on the ground and 51.3 yards per game as a receiver. In the two games against the Eagles last year, Elliott had 379 yards from scrimmage. The Eagles need to stop him — or at least slow him down — on Sunday. 

Cowboys' OTs vs. Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham 

Against the Jets, the Cowboys were without left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) and right tackle La’el Collins (knee) and it definitely showed. Veteran Cameron Fleming played left tackle and undrafted rookie Brandon Knight (from Indiana) played at right tackle. Barnett on Wednesday mentioned that he’s preparing for Smith and Fleming right now. 

Even if one or both Dallas starters are back (both practiced Thursday), they likely won’t be at 100 percent, so this should be a week where the Eagles’ edge rushers can get home. I listed Barnett and Graham, but even Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry should be able to make an impact on this game. 

If the Eagles are able to control Elliott (and that’s a big if), then they can try to put the game on Dak Prescott. If that happens and then the Eagles get pressure, it could really help. That should be the game plan. 

Andre Dillard vs. Robert Quinn

Since Jason Peters (knee) is out this weekend, rookie Andre Dillard will make his first-career start. He was thrust into a really tough spot against Minnesota and had his ups and downs. Overall, though, there were plenty of encouraging signs. With a full week of preparation and practice reps, and with Jason Peters coaching him up from the sideline, I suspect Dillard will be fine. 

This week, he’ll face Robert Quinn, who actually leads the Cowboys with five sacks, and he’s done it in four games. But make no mistake, Lane Johnson will still have the tougher task on DeMarcus Lawrence on the other side. Johnson has handled him very well in the past. 

Eagles' run game vs. Cowboys' LBs 

The Cowboys have two of the best young linebackers in the NFL in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Both players have around 50 tackles each this season and are everywhere on the field. Most teams have devalued the linebacker position in recent years, but the Cowboys are proof that good ‘backers can still make a difference. 

“Well, they're big, they really run well, they tackle really well, they're strong,” Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “Both are capable pass rushers. They do a good job in their scheme and utilize them in that way.”

Meanwhile, the Eagles have found some success running the football this season. They got behind early in the Vikings game, so they didn’t run a ton. But Jordan Howard has been pretty good and has taken over lead back duties. Miles Sanders has been a factor in the pass game, but we’re still waiting to see him be better in the run game. 

Eagles' receivers vs. Cowboys’ injured secondary 

It doesn’t sound like the Eagles will have DeSean Jackson this week, and that’s a shame because two Cowboys corners (Byron Jones and Anthony Brown) tweaked their hamstrings last week. The Eagles might get to see some more of Jourdan Lewis. 

Any help these Eagles receivers can get might go a long way. While Alshon Jeffery has at least provided some production, the Eagles haven’t gotten enough from Nelson Agholor and they haven’t gotten much of anything from Mack Hollins in recent weeks. 

On the flip side, it sounds like Amari Cooper (quad) probably won’t play this week. That’s a good thing for the Eagles. In December last year, Cooper had 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns against the Birds. 

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Good Eagles news for those who value sleep

Good Eagles news for those who value sleep

The Eagles-Seahawks game in two weeks at the Linc has been flexed out of its Sunday Night Football spot to an afternoon kickoff.

The Eagles will now host the Seahawks at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24 on FOX in Week 12.

From the NFL:

- Eagles-Seahawks moves from 8:20 p.m. on NBC to 1 p.m. on FOX.

- Packers-49ers moves from 4:25 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. on NBC.

This is good news for anyone who hates those late-night starts and values sleep, but bad news if you’re living out of town and wanted to watch the Eagles on national TV.

Before this change, the Eagles weren’t scheduled to have any of their remaining four home games as 1 p.m. starts. This also means the Eagles have just one more primetime game scheduled — Monday Night Football at home against the Giants on Dec. 9.

Here’s the Eagles’ updated remaining schedule as it stands now:

Week: 11: vs. NE on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 4:25 p.m.
Week 12: vs. SEA on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m.
Week 13: @ MIA on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m.
Week 14: vs. NYG on Monday, Dec. 9 at 8:15 p.m.
Week 15: @ WAS on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m.
Week 16: vs. DAL on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 4:25 p.m.
Week 17: @ NYG on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 1 p.m.

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Do Tom Brady and Patriots have a Philly Special of their own planned this time around?

Do Tom Brady and Patriots have a Philly Special of their own planned this time around?

Tom Brady was asked this week how long it took him to get over the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.
“You’re saying I’m over it? Come on now,” Brady said. “That’s a lot of mental scar tissue from that year.”
Brady will face the Eagles Sunday for the first time since Super Bowl LII, when the Eagles beat the Patriots 41-33 in Minneapolis.
Brady has played in nine Super Bowls, winning six. He’s won three of his last four. But on Feb. 4, 2018, the Eagles toppled Brady and Bill Belichick, setting off the greatest celebration in Philadelphia history.
“That was a tough game,” Brady said during his weekly appearance on WEEI in Boston. “But you learn from that year, and we came back stronger the next year and won the Super Bowl. I think everything is a matter of perspective. When you play in that game and you play great teams you’re not going to win them all. This is not the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals. It’s all about tough competition against the best teams. They deserved it that year and now a couple years later we get a chance to play the organization again."
Brady was asked about the Philly Special, which gave the Eagles a 22-12 lead before halftime and has become not only the most iconic play in Philadelphia sports history but also one of the two or three most iconic plays in Super Bowl history.
“Tough play to stop,” Brady said. “They executed it well. Trick plays, when they run it as well as they did, they always seem to work and they give you a lot of momentum. They’re still talking about that play. That play will go down in history, just like a lot of those big plays in the Super Bowl have. So, good for them.”
The Patriots, of course, tried a trick play earlier in the second quarter, but Brady dropped a pass from Danny Amendola that would have given the Patriots a first down deep in Eagles territory.
Would the Patriots consider running the Philly Special Sunday against the Eagles at the Linc?
Don’t put it past them.
Mohamed Sanu has thrown four career touchdown passes, Julian Edelman is 3-for-3 passing in his career for 75 yards and Jakobi Meyers started his career at North Carolina State as a quarterback.
“There’s some good passers on our team,” Brady said. “We’ve got a lot of ex-quarterbacks. … They’ve all got good arms. These guys can throw the ball. You never know what we’ve got up our sleeve. Might have to go into our bag of trick plays and see what we come up with.”
The Eagles didn’t exactly shut Brady down that night 21 months ago at U.S. Bank Stadium. He threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns. 
In his career, Brady is 4-2 against the Eagles with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions, both in the 2015 game in Foxboro that the Eagles won three weeks before Chip Kelly was fired. Malcolm Jenkins got Brady for a 99-yard pick-six in that game, and Byron Maxwell had the Eagles’ other INT.
In two games at the Linc, wins in 2003 and 2011, Brady has six TD passes and no INTs.
Here’s a look at the highest passer ratings in Lincoln Financial Field history with a minimum of 50 attempts:
118.3 … Tom Brady
112.1 … Kirk Cousins
103.5 … Aaron Rodgers
100.0 … Carson Wentz
96.5 … Matt Schaub
96.4 … Cam Newton
96.0 … Jon Kitna
92.2 … Donovan McNabb
92.1 … Tony Romo
91.4 … Carson Palmer
The Patriots easily won both of Brady’s games at the Linc  — 31-10 in 2003 and 38-20 in 2011 (despite 400 passing yards from Vince Young).
The last time the Eagles beat the Patriots in Philadelphia was 1999. The Patriots’ head coach was Pete Carroll, their quarterback was Drew Bledsoe and the Eagles’ quarterback was Koy Detmer. His backup was Doug Pederson.
“Really tough environment,” Brady said of the Linc. “Should be a great Sunday afternoon for football. They’ve definitely got great loud fans. It’s a tough place to play. There’s a lot of loud places. Baltimore was loud, Buffalo’s loud. It gets to the point where you basically can’t hear.”
Brady has a 215-61 career record and an NFL-record 531 career touchdowns. 

He’s the greatest of all time, but he’s also dealing with a personal two-game losing streak against the Eagles, and the Eagles and their fans are going to do everything within their power Sunday to get that streak to three in a row.

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