What are you doing to distract yourself until 8:30 tonight?
Playing a round of golf? Taking your significant other out to make them feel special instead of watching the dreck that is the early slate today? Whatever you got to do, you do to take your mind off of this game tonight.
First place is on the line, it’s the freakin’ Cowboys and Wentz vs. Dak. Whew, take a breath.
Let’s preview da boyz:
Is Tonight a Must Win?
It might just be if the Eagles want to have a chance at winning the division. If the Cowboys win tonight, they will have a two-game lead in the loss column on everyone else in the NFC East. They are a win away, against the Cleveland Browns next week, from having a 94% chance at making the playoffs. So, this might as well be a must win. If the Eagles do win however, the two would be tied atop the NFC East, with the Eagles having the upper hand, and unless the Cowboys have a two game lead on us on New Year’s Day that could be the game that decides the division. Tonight is incrementally important to the Eagles hopes of a division title.
Yes, the Cowboys offense is pretty insane both statistically and in the tape. We all know about their offensive line and just how dominant it is in setting up holes for Ezekiel Elliot to burst through, and they’re pretty good at keeping a clean pocket for Dak Prescott to operate out of. For the most part, the Cowboys play a super conservative style of offensive football. They use the run to set up the play-action pass and pick apart teams that over pursue in the run-game. It’s a staple of their passing game. For most of the first half of the season, Dak was ripped for not pushing the ball down the field, recently that narrative has chanced a bit and Dak is beginning to throw the ball down the field more. Could that lead to more picks? We will see tonight. Running the football is still the main part of this Cowboys offense. Elliot has 17 (!) rushing plays of 10 yards or more, in contrary, Darren Sproles leads the Eagles with 6. While they don’t have the big plays in the passing game, this offense is still really explosive in other ways. They also will get Dez Bryant back this week, how much he’ll be involved will be determined but after cutting himself cutting carrots (sure), the Cowboys get their best weapon back. The guy we have to look for in every matchup of these two teams is this Steve the Pirate looking MF’er..
If he torches us again, this may be the last article you’ll ever see from me.
The defensive stats certainly don’t blow you away, nor does their talent but they’re well coached and rely heavily on their execution. One thing that has hurt this Cowboys defense is their inability to get to the quarterback. They rank 23rd in passer rating allowed and only have 11 sacks on the entire year– Wentz should have time to assess the defense tonight, which is something he hasn’t had in his last two games. Their run defense is about middle of the road. They haven’t allowed many rushing yards this season, and only two rushing touchdowns on the year, but they rank in the bottom half of the league on average YPC at 4.4. It’s not a bad rushing defense, but it’s certainly not impenetrable. The Eagles ran the ball decently well last week against the Vikings, so hopefully that is a sign of things to come tonight.
The strength of the Dallas defense is their secondary. They may only have 4 takeaways but the stats don’t exactly tell the entire story. Former bust, Morris Claiborne is working to shed that label and is turning into a solid #1 corner. Remember when we all wanted Byron Jones? Well he’s been used all over the field for the Cowboys, from pseudo free safety to nickel cornerback. These two are fundamentally sound and tough to beat. Zach Ertz game? Kidding.
Matchup of the game:
It’s very simple. This game will be won or lost in the trenches. Can the Eagles get up the field against that Dallas offensive line and disrupt the Cowboys run game? That’s the only way the Eagles have a shot tonight. If they go rush sideline to sideline, like they did against the Redskins two weeks ago, it’ll be a long night for the Eagles. However, if they are aggressive in their pursuit and get up the field and force the running back to slow down in the backfield, like they did against the Vikings last week, they may just be able to neutralize Zeke. I think this Eagles defense learned a lot from that Redskins game and should be better prepared to face a similar rushing style tonight. Not saying they’ll shut Zeke down but they should have a good chance to at least slow him down.
The Eagles also have to get pressure on Dak. He’s just not that great with a lot of pressure in his face. Give Dak time and he’ll pick you apart with smart, accurate passes. Get a little pressure on him, he rushes and the ball sails. Can the Eagles get pressure against Dak, and that offensive line, without bringing the house like they did last week will be a main question of mine tonight.
On the other side of the ball, how can Big V hold up? He was solid last week coming off of an abysmal debut. The Cowboys don’t have the strongest edge rushers in the world but they’ll need V to keep taking steps forward and not regress. With a solid night from the offensive line, Wentz should have enough time against this Dallas defense to pick them apart. My only question is, how will they run the ball?
Finally, the Wentz vs. Dak bowl is here. I’m so sick and tired of hearing people that actually get paid for their sports opinions say they would prefer Dak over Wentz. If they knew anything about football, or sat down and watched these two play, they should understand who the better quarterback really is. I know Wentz doesn’t outwardly show his competitiveness but I wonder if inside he’s fired up to prove to the country who the better quarterback is. Given what we already know about the kid, I think this is the case and he rebounds with a huge performance Sunday night.
A Dak vs. Wentz shootout in Dallas? Sign me up.
Oh, and you’re welcome in advance, NFL, for saving the league’s rating crisis with a classic in Big D tonight.