When the dust settles this afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, one team will have sole possession of first place in the NFC East and an undefeated record in the division. Will it be the Cowboys or Eagles? Dallas heads into this high-stakes game aiming to slow down the Eagles’ potent offense, which is averaging more points than all but one team. If the Cowboys can do that, they’ll stand a good chance of prevailing because Tony Romo and Co. are capable of shredding the Eagles’ vulnerable secondary. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
DeMarco Murray is injured again and he’s listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report. He’s dealing with a sprained MCL in his left knee. And his backup Lance Dunbar won’t play because of a strained right hamstring. The Cowboys are expected to turn to rookie Joseph Randle, who gained 17 yards on 11 carries in a 31-16 victory over Washington. But Dallas, which is averaging 84.8 rushing yards per game, isn’t expected to feature Randle in a potential shootout.
When the Cowboys pass
Against Washington, Tony Romo had his worst performance this season from a statistical standpoint. Not surprisingly the Cowboys’ offense sputtered at times against the Redskins. But Romo should get back on track against the Eagles, who are allowing 314.5 passing yards, the second-highest average in the NFL. Expect Cowboys receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams to take advantage of Philadelphia’s mediocre secondary.
When the Eagles run
Before Chip Kelly arrived as head coach, Philadelphia already had the necessary components for a formidable rushing attack. So it’s no surprise Kelly has taken those pieces and made them better. Led by running back LeSean McCoy, the Eagles own the league’s best ground offense, averaging 178.5 yards per game. The Cowboys, who allowed 216 rushing yards to Washington last Sunday, will be challenged to stop them.
When the Eagles pass
Quarterback Nick Foles is expected to be behind center for the second consecutive game as Michael Vick continues to recover from a pulled hamstring. Last Sunday, in a victory over Tampa Bay, Foles threw for 296 yards and made a case for remaining the starter. The Cowboys, who are ranked 30th against the pass and have a depleted defensive line, will face a tough task trying to stop receiver DeSean Jackson if they can’t pressure Foles.
Dwayne Harris has emerged as quite the special teams weapon for the Cowboys. Against the Redskins, he accumulated 222 return yards and ran a punt back for a touchdown. Now Harris faces the Eagles, a team he victimized last season. In a November 2012 victory over Philadelphia, Harris returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles’ Donnie Jones, whose net punting average of 37.7 yards is 26th best in the NFL, won’t want to give Harris many opportunities to strike.
When Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin last faced each other, the offensive wizard won. Kelly’s Oregon team racked up 730 yards in a 62-51 victory over Kiffin’s USC Trojans. That kind of dominance has to inject Kelly with optimism at the same time it raises doubt among Kiffin and his players heading into Sunday. That may give Philadelphia an edge at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles have lost their last eight games.
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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game
To watch on TV, tune to:
KDFW-TV/FOX 4 Dallas | WTXF-TV/FOX 29 Philadelphia
Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)
When: Sunday, October 20th, 2013 at high noon (Dallas time)
Where: Lincoln Financial Field | Philadelphia, PA
Watch on TV: Local FOX affiliate | DirecTV
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