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Chip Kelly previews the Dallas Cowboys

The Eagles have a really important game this week.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The fact that the Philadelphia Eagles are playing on Thanksgiving day this week doesn't make the game any more special for head coach Chip Kelly. "I don't really ‑‑ just tell us when we're going to play," Kelly offered. "We don't really read much into it or wax nostalgic. It’s not like we're going to have a cornucopia and a turkey on the sideline. We're just going to go play football."

What does make this game special for the second-year Eagles coach is the challenge of the opponent: the Dallas Cowboys. Unlike the fans, it's not so much the rivalry factor that gets Kelly excited. "I think our guys are excited because it's a really good football team they're playing," Kelly explained. "I don't get into the ‑‑ because they're in the division, obviously it's a division [game], it means a lot more because of what's at stake because you get division records are the first thing you're going to look at in terms of ties and all those other things.  But the excitement is when you get a chance to play against a really good team, and Dallas is a really good team."

Kelly's not wrong. Philadelphia and Dallas appear to be pretty even-matched heading into this prime-time Turkey Day match-up. Both teams sport an 8-3 record, with the Eagles currently holding a tie-breaker over the Cowboys in the division standings.

This game is just the first of two contests between Philadelphia and Dallas in the next three weeks. It's imperative for the Eagles to win in order to retain their NFC East lead and keep their playoff hopes well alive.

Here's a look at what Kelly had to say about the Eagles' rivaled opponent.

Quick turnaround following the Titans game

No, we've had it all planned out. As a staff we just came back here right after the game and just started game planning on all three phases for Dallas and kind of what they did. Then obviously got the last game in – we didn't get the coaches' copy until early this morning, but we had to get most of our plan in place last night. It was a late night, but we knew – whenever you play a Thursday game, immediately after the game is going to be a late night.

Evaluating the Cowboys offensive line

I think it's vastly improved.  They do a really good job.  They've got [G] Zack Martin there: first‑round draft pick, who has really fit in. I think their center [Travis Frederick] who they picked a year ago, he's in his second season, so there's a little bit of continuity. Obviously, they’ve got [T Tyron] Smith at tackle who is outstanding. I think one of their strengths right now up front is what they're doing up front.

Challenge of defending Tony Romo

It's a huge challenge because you have to know not only what the original route was that your receivers are running, but what they're going to do after Tony bides time for himself. He does as good a job as any quarterback in the National Football League of keeping plays alive. He's got a great feel in the pocket. He has a unique sense in terms of if there's an unblocked guy, he just has a way of making him miss, but he's not looking to run. He's looking to throw the ball down the field, which is dangerous. We not only have to know the route combination that's coming at you, but you also have to know where they're headed after the quarterback gets away from the original rush.

Dallas' balance of running and throwing

It just makes them a complete team, so you just can't gang up on one phase.  Obviously, it's a lot easier if a team is more one‑dimensional, but they're very balanced and they've got some outstanding receivers in [WR Dez] Bryant and [TE Jason] Witten and the rest of the group there, so it's not like you can say, ‘Hey, if we can stop this, we've got a pretty good shot in this game.’

They run the ball as good as anybody in this league, and then obviously with Tony playing quarterback and Witten, Bryant, [WR Terrance] Williams, the rest of those guys, it's a difficult matchup in terms of what you're going to get because they can beat you either way.

Defending DeMarco Murray

I think our run defense has been good.  I think it'll be a great matchup in terms of our guys going against their guys, and I think that we feel like our run defense is a strength. Obviously, it's a big strength for them offensively, so it'll be interesting to see that whole chess match that goes on between their offense and our defense.

Improved Dallas defense

Yeah, and you know what, maybe overall they did, but I think in the two games that they played us, they played really well defensively, especially in the game we played here in Philadelphia.  The one thing I think [Cowboys defensive coordinator] Rod Marinelli's teams do when he's running the show is that they play extremely hard, and there's probably not a group that plays harder in the National Football League.

They run to the football. Everybody runs at every level: the D‑line, the linebackers and the secondary. Any time you play hard, you've got an opportunity to be successful, and that's what they're doing right now.

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