By Zach Walker
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
Thursday – November 27 – 3:30 pm
AT&T Stadium – Arlington
Who do you Cowboys need to shut down?
RB Darren Sproles – As Cowboys’ fans, let’s all bow our heads and curse horrible things at the New Orleans Saints for letting Sproles go and allowing him to float in the free agent pool for Chip Kelly to skim off the top. Early on this season, the Eagles offensive line was banged up badly and they really struggled to open up anything for LeSean McCoy or block for Nick Foles. But Darren Sproles is like water that finds the cracks in a submarine’s hull, and will get loose with any type of hole. The Eagles o-line has gotten much healthier, and they’ve gotten McCoy getting back to his dangerous regular self, but when Sproles touches the ball, as it always has been, he makes the defense pay. Anthony Hitchens has never faced anything like Sproles, and Bruce Carter is going to need to bring his A-game to keep Sproles from making the defense look like a pack of turkeys.
Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
CB Brandon Carr – Now it seems like kicking the dog, but Brandon Carr just has be completely better than he played against the Giants. Carr’s coverage was like watching an admiring fan trying to keep up with his hero, basically playful at the most. The Giants went after Carr, but that’s unfair because they attacked the entire defense, and in the first half, they shouldn’t have thought otherwise. Brandon Carr just needs to do the equivalent of a snake shedding its skin and burn all evidence of the Giants’ game, his jersey, game film, everything, and just concentrate on the Eagles. At least the Eagles don’t have any Odell Beckham Jr. type of players, the quick inside-out guy, they work in the possession style pass catchers, and that’s more Carr’s skill set.
Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Eagles Tight Ends – The Eagles inside workers, Zach Ertz and Brent Celek are two of the most active tandem tight ends in the league. While the Eagles have a reputation for speed, outside of Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles are a possession receiver group, and the quarterback just has to get the ball into the catch radius and it’s likely a reception. The two tight ends are great operators, great movement skills, good burst, smart/savvy route runners and at least one of them are active on every play, and both are deadly in the endzone. Let’s say that the Eagles go empty set, five receivers with two being Celek and Ertz, where’s the coverage going to come from?
Which group will give the Eagles fits?
The Cowboys Offensive Line – Seven Seconds. That’s the amount of time that Tony Romo had on two separate plays on the Cowboys final drive. Tyron Smith beat Jason Pierre-Paul to the ground, actually raised him back on to his feet and continued to dominate him. The Giants thought that rushing four and dropping seven would get the job done, and it totally backfired. The Eagles have some dangerous pass rushers, and they probably feel that they don’t have to throw a lot of zero blitzes at Tony Romo to get Romo to the ground, or at least, knock him around. Conner Barwin is a monster and probably the most dangerous quarterback hunter the Cowboys have faced since J.J. Watt, then the Eagles have three other major forces, Vinny Curry (6 sacks), Trent Cole (6.5 sacks), and Brandon Graham (4.5 sacks). The Cowboys O-line it going to be busy, but going against some very good players coming from all directions should be a great benchmark for this line.
What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
Players making plays. On the short week, the concepts of the team that were beaten into them will have to come through and more than anything the players have to lean on their abilities.
Prediction: Eagles 27 – Cowboys 35
This game for the division lead, appropriately comes on “Hate Week” for football, three division games on Thanksgiving, tons of in-state college rivalry games throughout the weekend and AT&T Stadium is going to be filled with animosity and want, like kids on a playground before Christmas break. Mark Sanchez is going to put up some mistake passes, and I expect one or two of them to become Cowboys’ possessions. But the up-tempo offense of the Eagles could become a problem for the Cowboys, so the Cowboys need to force the train off the rails.