Welcome to Dallas Week! The Eagles are primed for a big game in Big D during prime time on Sunday Night Football with the division lead on the line. This will be the biggest game of the season to date, no question.
I’m sure everyone is still reveling in the euphoria of yesterday’s big win over the previously undefeated Vikings. It was a much needed win against a quality opponent and puts the Eagles back on track for playoff contention.
However, the Eagles need to start winning their division games. They’ve already lost their first one and starting 0-2 in the NFC East would put them at a serious disadvantage for the division crown.
Dallas will pose a much stiffer test for the Eagles than did Minnesota. It’s unfortunate to say, but the Cowboys are a far more complete team than the Vikes.
The Eagles beat the Vikings for two main reasons: the huge special teams play where Josh Huff returned a kickoff for a score and the relentless pressure the defense was able to put on Sam Bradford.
The kickoff return was a big play but even though they’ve done that now two weeks in a row, it is certainly not something we want to rely on as a way to put points on the board. Teams are lucky if they do that once per year, let alone twice in two weeks.
Likewise, the rattling of Sam Bradford all game comes with an asterisk to me. The six sacks, 16 total hits and relentless pressuring of Bradford all day was impressive, but it came against two backup offensive tackles…and the edges were where the pressure came from.
Remember the week before against Washington? Their offensive line was intact and we barely breathed on Kirk Cousins. So, for now, I have to take the pressuring of Bradford with a grain of salt until I see this Eagles defensive line take it to a better unit.
Dallas will present that opportunity because their line is mostly intact. They’re missing a starting Guard but that seemingly hasn’t hurt them too much. This will be a good measuring stick to see where exactly this defense is at.
The Cowboys have an excellent running game. Led by Zeke Elliott, they’ve averaged a whopping 161 yards per game on the ground this year, tops in the NFL. Minnesota, by comparison, averages a meager 74 yards per game, good for 31st in the league.
As far as the passing game is concerned, the Cowboys are more middle-of-the-pack. Dak Prescott’s numbers are much like Carson Wentz’s, not overly impressive but still “okay.”
Prescott has also only been sacked nine times on the season. There is only one QB in the NFL that has started every game that has been sacked fewer times (Derek Carr). Dallas’ OL is also the main reason they lead the league in time of possession as well (yes Chip, this IS an important stat).
All of this tells me what most people know anyway…Dallas’ offensive line is good.
It’s true that the Eagles’ defensive line has matched up well against them in recent years, but they are still a very good unit.
On the other side of the ball, Dallas’ defense has been solid. Their run defense ranks 6th in the league and are holding opposing runners under 100 yards per game. Their pass defense ranks 13th and they’re tied for 12th in the NFL with nine takeaways through six games.
Dallas’ defense isn’t a juggernaut by any means, but they are solid and helped out tremendously by their offensive ball control.
Then we have some intangibles to throw out there. Big game, division rival, Dallas is at home, prime time, they’re playing well, coming off their bye…and they get their big, emotional playmaker back on offense this week…Dez Bryant.
You don’t think Dallas will be amped-up and ready to roll?
Dallas is the most complete team the Eagles will have faced this season so far. It’s going to be intense. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be nerve-wracking.
And, it’s going to be a great test to see exactly where this team stands. Buckle up, it’s Dallas week!