The Eagles will look to keep the momentum rolling after a much needed win in London against Jacksonville. The next 8 weeks of the season are a brutal test for the Birds as they are set to face 2 of the best teams in football in the Rams and Saints, a division leading Texans team, and 5 NFC East Division matchups. For now, let’s take an in depth look at the tale of the tape for the first of these matchups: Eagles vs. Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.
In The Air:
Eagles: Make no mistake about it, this Cowboys defense is no joke. Whether you want to believe it or not, The Eagles may very well have their hands full this Sunday. Dallas has the 5th ranked passing defense in the NFL, allowing just 217.1 yards a game through the air. The Eagles and their 14th ranked passing attack will have their hands full in trying to move the ball. To this point, the Eagles have averaged 260.2 passing yards per game and will need to deliver numbers similar to this to overcome the hot Cowboys secondary.
Cowboys: On the other end, the Eagles pass defense looms near the bottom of the entire league at 25th. The struggles of the secondary have been no secret and everyone has their opinions on who is to blame. Luckily, the Cowboys passing offense is even worse, and is ranked 29th out of 32 teams. If the Eagles struggle this week against a Cowboys passing attack that averages just 188.4 yards through the air a game, we should be terrified of what a team like New Orleans will do to them in Week 11.
Eagles RB’s vs Cowboys D: The Eagles have been feeling the loss of RB Jay Ajayi heavily. The running-back by committee approach hasn’t been very settling for Eagles fans. The Birds enter the Week 10 matchup with the 18th ranked rushing attack, averaging 106.6 yards on the ground. The committee will go up against a very strong rushing defense in Dallas. As I said, the Dallas Cowboys Defense is no joke. They come into the game with the 10th ranked rushing defense, averaging 99.6 yards a game.
Cowboys: The Cowboys run game led by Ezekiel Elliott has been doing quite well. Elliott and the Cowboys have the 6th ranked rushing offense, with an average of 128.8 yards on the ground a game. No need to fear, however, The Eagles run-D has been spectacular this season. The Birds come in with the 2nd ranked rushing defense in the NFL, giving up an average of just 83.8 yards a game.
Five Things To Watch For:
1) Demarcus Lawrence vs. either an injured Lane Johnson or Hal Vaitai: Lane Johnson will practice this week and *may* play, but I would not be surprised at all if the Eagles stay on the safe side and let him continue to recover. If he does play he will obviously not be at 100%, which is never ideal. If he doesn’t play, one matchup to certainly be showcased is breakout star Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence facing Eagles T Hal Vaitai. Vaitai has struggled at times this year and will have no easy task this week if called upon. Demarcus Lawrence will look to increase his 6.5 sack total going against Vaitati, It is also worth noting that Vaitai, in place of Johnson, would be switching to right-tackle and not left-tackle which he filled in for Jason Peters last season.
2) Will we finally get a definitive primary running-back out of the committee? Doug Pederson confirmed to media that Darren Sproles returned to practice this week and was expected to make his return Sunday. That was until Thursday when news broke that Sproles had re-aggravated his hamstring injury and is now **expected** to be sidelined. If he does play, it won’t be for many snaps. When/if he does return healthy one day, he will be plugged into the committee and is expected to take a good amount of carries. The question is, whose carries will he be taking?
3) Golden Tate’s Eagles Debut: The newly acquired WR will make his debut with the Eagles on Sunday. Earlier in the year Tate’s Lions went against the Cowboys. Tate had one of the best performances of his career, racking up 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.
4) Nelson Agholor’s Role with Tate on-field: Many eyes will be on Nelson Agholor and how the Eagles will use him now with Tate, a player with a similar play-style in the lineup. Agholor has excelled in his role as slot receiver in the last two years, but with the Eagles eager to use Tate and Agholor it will be interesting how they implement both. Agholor
Agholor is embracing Tate and any role change he may bring. In a locker room interview with the press, he tells reporters “Like I told y’all from the the jump, I can play outside, I can play inside. Whether I’m playing Z or I’m playing X. I want to be efficient.”
5) Football Analytics don’t favor Ertz and Tate on the field at the same time.
Analytics have become a very important way experts look into even the most peculiar details of the game. Whether you are a stat-freak or a skeptic of analytical research, there is one interesting note that NFL Analytics expert James Koh tweeted shortly after the Tate trade news broke. Apparently Tate and Ertz may experience role conflict in their dominant parts of the field, with 70% of Tate’s targets and 75% of Ertz’s targets coming in between the numbers. I’m sure the Eagles have addressed this.. but its certainly something to be aware of going forward.
We are sure in for a treat Sunday Night, and I’m sure the Linc will be rocking and ready to go. Hopefully the Eagles are too.
My Prediction: 28-17 Eagles.
Photo 1: ESPN | Photo 2: CSNPhilly | Photo 3: NFL.com | Photo 4: NFL.com | Photo 5: AP Images