Eagles vs Cowboys: Battle for the NFC East

Eagles vs Cowboys: Battle for the NFC East

Sunday night sees one of the most anticipated divisional matchups between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams sit at 3-3 after not living up to the offseason hype. This is in spite some of the deepest rosters in the league. This Week 7 match-up will determine who leads the NFC East at the midseason mark. 

Clara Lilley takes a look at how these NFC East teams made it to 3-3, and what they need to do to break the divisional battle of attrition. 

Always trailing

The Cowboys have struggled to get moving on offense in almost all games this season. Dallas has just one opening drive score all season. They have scored only 9 points in the first half of the past 3 games. Quarterback Dak Prescott only manages to gain composure when he’s leading a losing team. For the Cowboys, that’s normally too late. Prescott needs to lead a scoring drive from the outset to set himself up for a high scoring game, winning all games that have had a box score from the first quarter. 

While the Eagles have managed to score a more respectable 26 points in the first half of the last three games, they are are not a cohesive team until they’ve played a few drives. The Philadelphia defense has allowed 88 points in the first half of their 2019 games with very little answer. Philadelphia are a capable team, usually able to be competitive later in the game. A stronger defensive performance early in the game is essential for this Eagles team to make an impact. 

Defensive doldrums

The Cowboys defense has been disappointing. The team is loaded with Pro Bowlers and All-Pros, including league leader Leighton Van Der Esch. Not only has the defense allowed 1,991 yards, they also average losing 78 yards on penalties per game,. The defensive tackles have been moved off the line far too easily and the linebackers have been washed out of the play far too often.

Philadelphia’s defense fairs only slightly better.Their pass rush is getting better now pro-bowler Fletcher Cox is recovering from his offseason injury. Yet, their current defensive scheme is unable to limit pass-heavy teams. Philadelphia has given up 19 plays of 20+ yards or more and six ‘explosive’ touchdowns. No team has allowed more 30-yard passing touchdowns. For Philadelphia to find success, they need to work on improving their pass coverage.  

Must win game

For both teams in the NFC East, this is a must win game. 

The Cowboys face the Vikings, Lions and Patriots after their week 8, with one of the hardest schedules to see out the season. After their divisional loss last season, Dallas are looking to prove a point. Since they paid superstar running back Ezekiel Elliot, alongside tackle La’el Collins and Linebacker Leighton Van Der Esch, they want to demonstrate their worth. 

For Philadelphia, their 2017 Super Bowl win against the Patriots still remains at the front of the city’s mind. Philadelphia is a competitive sport city, and their 2018 division loss against New Orleans was not enough. To prove that it wasn’t just a fluke, and that the Pederson era signified real change in Philly, leading the division ahead of the bye week may allay concerns. 

Image credit: RON JENKINS

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