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Rivalry Week: Cowboys at Eagles

Two of the top teams in the NFC face off this Sunday in the City of Brotherly Love in what can be a pivotal victory for both squads.

The Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) host the Dallas Cowboys (5-2) in their first matchup of the year. Both teams are on two-game win streaks and a win from the Cowboys would put them in first place in the NFC East and NFC as a whole.

Both squads have been rolling as of late with no indication of slowing down anytime soon, however, one of these heavyweight teams will suffer a hard loss this weekend.

So what will be the key to victory for each team?

Dallas Cowboys:

It’s arguably a more important game for America’s Team with week with two bad losses this season. Falling to the Arizona Cardinals (1-7) 28-16 in week three and to the San Francisco 49ers (5-3) 42-10 in week five put the Cowboys behind the eight-ball in the NFC rankings.

In the past two wins, they have shown how talented this team is in all three phases of the game.

On offense, Dak Prescott has been playing phenomenal. Last week may have been his best performance in some time as he threw 25-of-31 for 304 yards and four touchdowns while sitting out in the fourth quarter.

When he plays like that he is a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. He also has been using his feet a lot more in the past two weeks rushing 11 times for 59 yards and one touchdown. That opens up so many things on the offense and it’s just another thing the defense has to scheme for, similar (but not on the same level) as Jalen Hurts.

On defense, DC Dan Quinn has his guys only allowing 287.4 yards per game (ranked third) and 17.1 points per game (ranked fourth). Daron Bland had his third pick-six of the season last week and has really stepped up after Trevon Diggs went down.

On special teams, KaVontae Turpin is a weapon returning the ball. He had two huge punt returns last week with one score getting called back. DE Sam Williams also blocked a punt resulting in a safety. Coordinator John ‘Bones’ Fassel has done wonders on this unit.

Keys to Victory:

  • Get Prescott Going Early: When McCarthy lets play how Prescott is built to play, good things happen. The Eagles’ secondary has struggled up until this point, let Dak exploit that.
  • Create Turnovers: Hurts is currently tied in second with eight interceptions thrown this season. Dallas has 13 takeaways this season. Match made in Heaven for this defense.
  • Limit Mistakes: One thing the Cowboys can’t do is make self-inflicted mistakes. Racking up penalties is something McCarthy’s teams are known for in his tenure and that cannot happen against a team that will capitalize in a big way on Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles:

The Eagles picked up where they left off last season by continuing to win games. They currently hold the best record in the NFL with only one loss coming from the New York Jets (4-3) in week six. They have since bounced back beating a very talented Miami Dolphins (6-2) team and pulling out a close victory against the Washington Commanders (3-5).

However, even with the wins piling up each week, Philadelphia has noticeably struggled in multiple areas.

On offense, they currently rank 18th in red zone offense, only one year removed from being ranked third. OC Brian Johnson has made some questionable play calls but somehow Jalen Hurts is still leading this group. They rank third in both points scored per game (28) and yards per game (387.4).

A.J. Brown is possibly the team’s MVP until this point. He cannot be stopped. Brown has recorded 125 or more in six straight games becoming the first player ever to reach that milestone. It’ll be interesting how the Dallas secondary plans to stop the possible offensive player of the year.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have the No.1 run defense. They have struggled to stop the past due to their weaker secondary but with the addition of All-Pro Kevin Byard that should change within the coming weeks.

Keys to Victory:

  • Protect the Football: Hurts is currently tied with the second most interceptions (8) in the NFL. The Eagles cannot afford to give the ball away in a game that can certainly come down to the last few minutes.
  • Brown Keeps Rolling: The star wide receiver has shown no signs of slowing down. More than likely Bland will travel with Brown, it’ll be a test for both players.
  • Force Turnovers: Win the takeover battle, win the game (usually). Prescott has taken better care of the football this season but even if they can get one takeaway it could flip the outcome of the game.

Final Thoughts:

As a Cowboys fan who lives outside Philadelphia, these rivalry games are talked about nonstop all week. Each fan base has outrageous takes about the other and it can be laughable at times.

Realistically, I think this will be a close game that comes down to the fourth quarter. Both teams are rolling right now and look like two of the top teams in the NFC. I would give the edge in Philadelphia strictly because of the home-field advantage. These teams will split the season series into two close, competitive games.

I think Prescott does put the league on notice this week. With so much criticism day in and day out in the media, he puts the talks to rest for the time being. The Eagles’ defense should limit Pollard and make the Cowboys move the ball through the air.

Brown should continue to dominate but I do think he falls short of 125 yards. Hurts may have a turnover or two but somehow, someway they come out with a win. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to this heavyweight battle. It should truly tell how good each of these teams is at this point in the season.

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