(I first posted this at BTB...but was encouraged also to start the discussion here)
This post assumes three things. Firstly, it assumes that we are all fans of the NFL. In fact, we’re such passionate fans that we get on blog sites mid-week to continue rooting for our teams. With that said, it should be clear that we have a lot more in common than not...the only difference between us is the uniform color we root for.
Secondly, I’m looking at players objectively. I have no problem calling one guy better than another if he is; regardless of his uniform. As I compare players, I call a “push” those two guys that each of their teams’ fans would rather keep than trade for his counterpart on the opposing team. As an example, I’ll call DeSean and Miles a “push”. Dallas fans will argue all day that Miles is better, and they’d rather have him; Eagles will do the same...there will never be agreement, and there really is no clear ‘winner’...they’re a push.
Thirdly, in my comparison, I’m only looking at our game tomorrow, not our rosters at 100% health.
QB: Romo vs McNabb
Edge: Push >Both guys have elevated their games in the 2nd half of the season. This is a push, and both sides will disagree with that, which is why it’s a push.
RB: Westbrook vs Barber
Edge: Push >This is tough. I would usually give this to Westy, but we haven’t really seen him most of the season, and I don’t know what we’re going to see from him on Sunday. Barber hasn’t looked particularly explosive this year either, which is why Cowboys have had more success with the platoon system.
RB: Jones and Choice vs McCoy and Weaver
Edge: Push >The Eagles backs out-gained the ‘Boys by 11 yards this season, but that’s with Felix missing two games. There are two stats to notice, the first is that the Cowboys backs are averaging 5.9 and 5.5 ypc respectively, while the Birds guys are gaining 4.1 and 4.7; that’s very much in the Cowboys favor. However, McCoy has more receptions and reception yards than both Cowboy backs combined (Eagles guys have 53 rec; 443yds; 2TDs; compared to Cowboys’ backs 31 rec, 248 yds, 0TDs) With one running better, and one catching better.
WR: DeSean vs Austin
Edge: Push >I’ve already stated this is a push. We know what both guys bring to the table, they are both great weapons for their teams. DeSean can make something of nothing, and is used returning kicks and running from the backfield. Austin will spin off three arm tackles, and is a bigger weapon in the redzone.
WR: Maclin and Avant vs Crayton and Williams
Edge: Eagles >Eagles’ guys have 92 receptions for 1294 yards and 7 TDs. Cowboys guys have 71 receptions for 1122 yards and 11TDs, and while this is a push, Eagles WR corps gets the overall nod b/c a healthy Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown are far superior than Kevin Ogletree who has 2 fumbles on his 6 catches for 81 yards. With that said, it’s a ridiculously even matchup if you have to more than 3 WRs deep to find some discrepancy.
TE: Celek vs. Witten
Edge: Push >If this was a post on careers, it would clearly go to Witten who has been nothing short of phenomenal, and has been consistently producing year in and year out. But THIS year, Celek has matched his production. Witten has 19 more receptions for 79 more yards, but Celek has 8TDs to Witten’s 1...they both have 3 games of 100+ yards. This is also a push.
OT: Jason Peters and Winston Justice vs Flozell and Doug Free
Edge: Eagles >Flozell has 95 penalties himself and has given up 7 sacks this year. Jason Peters, in another pro-bowl year has only 45 penalty yards and has given up 6 sacks. Doug Free has been serviceable covering for Columbo in 6 games, but even to Eagles’ fans surprise Winston Justice has been spectacular.
Interior Linemen: Herremans, Cole, Jean-Gilles vs Kosier, Gurode, Davis
Edge: Cowboys >This definitely goes to the Cowboys! Herremans is good, but after that, the depth of the Eagles is tested. Nick Cole gets his first start at Center (which is his natural position, and he has been starting at Guard all year) with Jackson’s injury, but he clearly is not Gurode. Jean-Gilles has seen some limited time this year, but has been banged up. The plus to the Eagles is that their line has been in flux almost all year, and they’ve managed to be successful. The Cowboys interior lineman are definitely a strength going into this game.
DE (OLB): Trent Cole vs DeMarcus Ware
Edge: Push. >Any Questions? Cole: 54 tackles, 12.5 sacks. Ware: 56 tackles, 11 sacks
DE (OLB): Anthony Spencer vs Juqua Parker et. al.
Edge: Cowboys >Spencer has 62 tackles and 4 sacks. Parker has 32 tackles and 7 sacks. The different defensive schemes don’t really equate, and the Eagles rotate this end so much. Bottom line, it’s not a secret that the Eagles don’t have a stud opposite Cole, and Spencer’s really good. I give Cowboys the edge here.
DT (DE): Bunkley and Patterson vs Ratliff, Olshansky, and Spears
Edge: Push >This is a push, not because Ratliff is the best guy here, which he is. He is not only an incredible run defender, he collapses the pocket. If I were to compare player by player, Ratliff would get the edge on everyone...but, if you look at the interior lines, if Ratliff is #1, Bunkley and Patterson grab the 2 and 3 spots. They may not collapse the pocket and get to the QB like Ratliff, but there’s a reason teams have not had success at all running up the middle against us.
CBs: Sheldon and Asante vs TNew and Jenkins
Edge: Eagles >As much as Cowboy fans want this to be a push, it isn’t. Brown and Asante could very easily be the best CB tandem in the league. TNew is solid and Jenkins is young and promising, and in a year or two could easily develop into a great player, but they aren’t at the level of Sheldon and Asante.
ILBs (LBs): Spoon, Trotter, and Fokou vs James and Brooking
Edge: Cowboys >In reality I understand that Will Witherspoon is probably the only Eagles LB that could start for the Cowboys. We’ve been in flux all year, and our LBs have not been impressive.
SS: Mikell vs Sensebaugh
Edge: Push. >Mikell has 64 tackles and 2 picks vs Gerald’s 60 tackles and 1 pick. These guys are both good players, and I was actually pissed when I heard the Cowboys got Sens.
FS: Jones, Harris, Demps vs Ken Hamlin
Edge: Eagles. >Hamlin has 49 tackles in 11 games. Sean Jones has 57 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 picks in only 9 starts. Macho Harris has 35 tackles, Demps adds another 11 tackles and a pick. The Eagles have rotated this position like their linebackers, and while it hasn’t been a strong point of our defense, neither has Ken Hamlin been for the ‘Boys.
Eagles get the edge in WR depth, offensive tackles, corner backs, and free Safety
Cowboys get the edge in interior offensive lineman, WLB (vs LDE), and interior Linebackers (vs Eagles LBs)
The biggest thing we should walk away from this with is an appreciation for how evenly matched our teams are. I don’t really understand how either side can talk very confidently about a win. This game can REALLY go either way.
-Ratliff vs banged up Eagles interior line. This should benefit Ratliff, he should have a good game
-Ware and Peters will Battle, as will Cole and Flozell.
-Witten should be able to take advantage of our LBs.
-The Eagles 3 and 4 WRs should be able to take advantage of the Cowboy’s depth at CB