What to Watch For: Eagles vs Cowboys – Game 1
Eagles and Cowboys at the Linc. Both teams fighting to determine who is first place in the NFC East. It doesn’t get much better than this.
For the Eagles, they head into the game with a full scale quarterback controversy as Michael Vick sits out with an injured hamstring. The Cowboys limp into this contest without their elite pass rusher in DeMarcus Ware and starting running back DeMarco Murray. Regardless, this game should be quite a show.
Fun Fact for the Matchup: The highest total combined yards in an Eagles/Cowboys matchup is 869. The game was played on October 9, 1966 and resulted in an Eagles loss: 56-7.
And now, what to watch for:
1. Moving Chains. The Eagles and Cowboys allow the first and third highest yards per game in the league at 420.2 and 413.2 respectively. Throw in the fact that that the Eagles are fourth in the league with points scored (166) and the Cowboys are second (183), there’s going to be a lot of movement on Sunday.
2. Jason Witten should be a major factor in that movement. The Eagles have allowed 389 yards to tight ends this season, which is the 7th most in the league. Add in the fact that Witten has gone over 65 yards 9 times against the Eagles during his career and it’s feels increasingly likely that he’ll be trouble. Mychal Kendricks, your upcoming Sunday may consist of more than 24 hours.
3. Option Plays. Dallas runs the Tampa 2 Defense, since adding Monte Kiffin to the coaching staff, which employs a lot of zone schemes. Fortunately for the Eagles, option plays are designed to take advantage of that very type of structure. (I mentioned it before, but read this article to get a well-demonstrated idea of exactly how) In short, expect lots of bubble screens on the outside.
4. Differences in Pace. It’s no secret that the Eagles play fast. They average 22.3 seconds to run a play so for this season—good for second in the league. However, what’s so interesting is that Dallas is the opposite. On average, Dallas takes nearly 29.8 seconds a play, which is 31st in the league. As a result, it will be interesting to see if the Eagles will be able to really tire Dallas’ defense out as they get extended time on the bench.
5. Vinny Curry! Curry received the most snaps of the season last week with 25. He registered two quarterback hurries and a batted pass in that game. With the Cowboys likely to spend a lot of time passing, look for Curry to get a chunk of time as a pass rusher on third downs.
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