By Zach Walker
Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday – September 20 – 3:25 CT
Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia
Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
RB Darren Sproles – It really doesn’t matter who’s the quarterback or who’s the primary running back, because it’ll take whichever quarterback about four plays on the field together to realize that Darren Sproles is the best football player on almost any offense. I truly believe that if there was an all-football player team, taking skills and talent fully into account, Sproles would be in the starting backfield (with Jamaal Charles). On Monday night, Sproles was Sproles, five carries for 50 yards, then seven catches for 76 yards. There always must be eyes on Sproles or else he’ll be tearing up the sideline with the game in his hands.
Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
Play-caller Scott Linehan – In all reality, Dez Bryant shouldn’t be expected back on the field until well after the bye week, so it’s going to be a team-wide responsibility to pick up his slack on the field. If going off of Sunday night’s performance, the wide receiver group is going to need a massive increase in drills, because collectively, they were terrible. It’s going to be up to Scott Linehan to put together Dez-less game plans and to put the pieces in the correct positions.
Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Eagles’ Linebackers – It was fantastic to see what all of the time spent, in his vault, hidden from the public eye, could equate to on the field. Lance Dunbar was the leading receiver, slipping from the backfield and making good work with his sure hands. Joseph Randle’s mitts weren’t bad either. But, the Giants have a much depleted linebacking corps. That isn’t the case with the Eagles. If a guy was judged to be good enough to swap straight LeSean McCoy for, that should say something about Kiko Alonso’s game. Of course, Chip Kelly knew him from Oregon, but Alonso won the defensive Rookie of the Year, two years ago, then blew out an ACL. But between Alonso and Mychal Kendricks, the Eagles have a great young duo of speed linebackers to try and slow down the Cowboys running backs.
Which group will give the Eagles fits?
The Cowboys’ Tight Ends – As good as those linebackers are for the Eagles can be, good linebacking is beat by hall-of-fame tight ending. Jason Witten is the best of the best at the tight end position, and it’d take either or any linebacker to be on top of their game. I still don’t think it would be enough to beat the duo of Romo to Witten. But where the battle gets good for the Cowboys, is throwing Gavin Escobar in the mix. Escobar has a great catch radius, and is very athletic, but with both in the red-zone, Witten bringing the know-how and Escobar the miss-match, it’ll be a very difficult to keep the Cowboys out of the end zone.
What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
I’d like to see some more from the running game, they got away from it last week because of turnovers. The defensive line lost a piece in Randy Gregory, for the near future, and someone needs to bring some heat. I’d love for Joseph Randle to put his fist through the screen on this game and really eat the meat off the bone. The Cowboys are forced to win games ugly now with their injury situation, but they just have to be the team that they’ve been fighting to become.
Prediction: Dallas 24 – Philadelphia 20