The Eagles are 9-4 and are in a tie for the NFC East with the Cowboys due to a tough loss at home against the Seahawks. The Eagles are very much in the hunt for the playoffs and only have division games to look forward to as the season comes to a close. Philadelphia is 3-0 against the division and likely needs to beat Dallas and win one other game to clinch the division.
Dallas comes to town after rebounding against a deplorable Bears squad. The Cowboys have had 10 days of rest and will likely be more prepared for the Eagles than they were on Thanksgiving. The Eagles need to sweep the Cowboys to keep their playoff hopes in their hands. The Cowboys are undefeated on the road this season.
1) Did the Seahawks expose the Eagles offense? Is quarterback really the only thing that is holding this team back?
Kaye: The Eagles weren't exposed against the Seahawks. Seattle was and is the better team. Having said that, the Eagles really need to expand their offense with better quarterback play. The running game wasn't much help against the Seahawks, but that's going to happen and good quarterbacks step up in those occasions. I am not sure Mark Sanchez or Nick Foles is worthy of being "the guy" even in a two-year timeline. This season has largely been a mess on offense and yet, Chip Kelly's unit is among the best in the league in racking up yards. I think a better quarterback would easily make this offense ridiculously awesome.
Klausner: Yes and yes. A common criticism from the Seahawks game is that Chip Kelly was too conservative in his play-calling. I didn't think that was the primary issue. Routes had time to develop, receivers were getting open -- on many occasions, including the oh-so-devastating interception. Mark Sanchez was simply shell-shocked pretty much from the start and played scared the whole game. You could see it in how hesitant he was to pull the trigger when receivers were at the stem and about to separate with their next move -- and how he constantly held the ball too long and dropped his eyes even when the rush wasn't in his face. It just seemed like once things didn't go as smoothly or easily for Sanchez as they did at the start of the Cowboys game, he got rattled and intimidated. In a game where he had a chance to show he was for real in his renaissance as a starting quarterback, he folded like a lawn chair.
As long as the Eagles' starting quarterback is one whose ceiling is an average starter in this league, they won't be able to do anything against the fastest, most physical and ferocious, best defenses.
2) The Eagles destroyed the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, do you think the task will be as easy this time around?
Kaye: In short: Definitely not. I think Tony Romo having more time to prepare and heal is a good thing for Dallas and I am pretty sure that Dez Bryant is going to want to prove himself in primetime. While I think DeMarco Murray will be shutout for the majority of the game, I do think the Dallas passing game will show up this time around. The Eagles are the better team in my opinion, but the secondary is still a major weakness against a talented aspect of the Cowboys team. I am still pretty sure the Eagles will win the rematch.
Klausner: No chance. I pretty much agree with Mike on all counts. I expect the Cowboys to show serious resolve in this game and pull out all the stop, to do things they haven't shown on tape before. They were flat-out humiliated at home in Week 13, and as much as I would loooooooooooooove LOVE for that to happen again, I don't see it. Tony Romo is battered and playing with injuries, but unlike the Thanksgiving game, he'll actually be on his regular football schedule. I don't think Murray is going to avenge himself and run wild because nothing has changed about the Cowboys' offensive line or the Eagles' defensive front. Feeling like this is a Dez Bryant domination game where he gets untracked, even though the Eagles contained him last time thanks to an array of different coverages deployed by Bill Davis.
My favorite analyst talking point that's getting thrown out this week is how much the Cowboys defense is going to watch the Seahawks film from last week and emulate them. Cool. If the Cowboys get all the Seahawks' defensive players for Sunday's game, that could work!
3) Which matchups are most looking forward to? Which matchups are you dreading?
Kaye: The Eagles are likely going with a similar game plan to Thanksgiving, so Jordan Matthews against anyone the Cowboys put in the slot is a good matchup at this point.
On defense, I'll go with Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks against the Dallas run game. The 2011 draft class continues to be good for the Eagles on defense and these two have been on fire the last three weeks. I look for them to continue their success.
Despite their success on Thanksgiving, I am still worried about the Eagles defensive backs against the Cowboys wide receivers.
Klausner: Just like the last game against the Cowboys, on offense it's the line and LeSean McCoy against the Cowboys front seven, since that will open everything up for Sanchez and the receivers. Seeing as how Mike took Cox and Kendricks on defense, I'll take Bennie Logan inside and Trent Cole outside. They'll both have to be their usual stalwarts against the run to make the Cowboys one dimensional. Not looking forward to a pissed off Dez Bryant and the speedy Terrance Williams against Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher -- both receivers will have more than the usual biggest-rival, division-lead-up-for-grabs extra motivation. Malcolm Jenkins has been struggling recently and was burned badly against the Seahawks. I have to imagine the Cowboys will try to get him isolated in the slot on Bryant, Williams and Cole Beasley -- who, despite the fumble against the Eagles, has had his best three games of the season over the last three weeks (9 catches for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns). That said, I'm expecting a vintage performance from Jenkins and his first interception -- he came oh-so-close and should've had a pick-six against Russell Wilson in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks -- since the 49ers game.
4) Who are the two players on each side of the ball that will shine on Sunday?
Kaye: I'll say LeSean McCoy and Matthews on offense and Cox and Kendricks on defense. Sorry, kind of lazy because of the similar questions. Pretty sure that's my fault too.
Klausner: Darren Sproles and the embattled, very loathsome Riley Cooper (call it a hunch) on offense; Connor Barwin and Malcolm Jenkins on defense.
Honorable mention: Mark Sanchez bounce-back game!
5) Give us your prediction!
Kaye: Eagles 30-24. BOOM!!!!!!
Klausner: Despite sweating this game more than I want to admit, I'll never pick the Cowboys to win. Ever. And hell, forget about the division, the Eagles -- yeah, yeah, just like the Cowboys -- need this win to guarantee they stay in the playoff picture with two games remaining. I like the Eagles' overall team talent and, obviously, their coaching more than that of the Cowboys. Let's shove it down their fucking throat again. 34-31, Eagles.