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Previewing The Cowboys

Posted Nov 10, 2012

The second quarter of the season was certainly unkind to the Eagles, as they lost all four games and fell to 3-5. But the Eagles have always been a second-half team under Andy Reid, and if there’s hope that things can still turn around in 2012, it will have to begin on Sunday afternoon against a Dallas Cowboys team that is struggling in its own right, also at 3-5. The Eagles have won three of the last four contests with the Cowboys, with the loss coming in a Week 17 game in 2010 when the Eagles were resting their starters in anticipation of the playoffs.

Much like the Eagles, the Cowboys have struggled with turnovers. In fact, the two teams are tied for second in the league with 19 giveaways on the season, as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo leads the league with 13 interceptions. Also like the Eagles, the Cowboys have struggled in the red zone, where they’ve converted 44 percent of their chances into touchdowns, good for a tied for 26th in the league (the Eagles are 30th in the category at 37 percent). So Sunday’s battle for 2012 relevance is likely to come down to which side can make the fewest mistakes and capitalize on the most opportunities.

Much of the focus, meanwhile, will be on the Eagles’ offensive line, where right tackle Todd Herremans was lost for the season with a foot injury. Now, after getting sacked seven times against the Saints, Michael Vick will be protected by Demetress Bell at left tackle, Evan Mathis (the lone remaining Week 1 starter) at left guard, Dallas Reynolds at center, King Dunlap at right tackle and Dennis Kelly. Their eyes will be keyed on one of the best pass rushers in the league, the vaunted DeMarcus Ware, who already has 9.0 sacks on the season. Of Ware’s 108.5 career sacks, 15.5 have come against the Eagles, his most against any single team.

Last Time They Met In Philadelphia:
Oct. 30, 2011, Eagles 34-7

In one of his best games as a Philadelphia Eagle, Michael Vick completed 75 percent of his pass attempts for 279 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 50 yards on the ground in the 34-7 blowout win over the rival Cowboys. LeSean McCoy tore up Rob Ryan's defense to the tune of a career-high 185 yards and two touchdowns.

Tale Of The Tape (2012 Stats)
Cowboys Eagles
Record 3-5 3-5
Points Scored Per Game 18.8 (26th in NFL) 16.6 (29)
Total Yards Per Game 382.5 (6) 373.9 (10)
Rushing Yards Per Game 83.4 (29) 130.6 (10)
Passing Yards Per Game 299.1 (3) 243.2 (14)
Points Allowed Per Game 22.6 (17) 22.9 (18)
Total Yards Allowed Per Game 312.5 (5) 343.5 (15)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game 107 (15) 114.1 (16)
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game 205.5 (5) 229.4 (15)
Turnover Ratio -11 (31) -9 (29)

Players To Watch

RB LeSean McCoy

While the Eagles’ offense has not started off the way they had hoped, running back LeSean McCoy is making the most of his opportunities. Through eight games, McCoy has 146 carries for 623 yards and two rushing touchdowns. On Monday night against the Saints, McCoy had one of his best games of the season, carrying the ball 19 times for 119 yards.

Two of the best games in McCoy’s young career have come courtesy of the Dallas defense. In 2010, McCoy ran for 149 yards in Dallas. And in Week 7 of last season, McCoy ran the ball 30 times for an eye-popping 185 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys have one of the best pass defenses in the league, but are surrendering 107 yards per game on the ground. Not only that, they have allowed seven rushing touchdowns thus far. All of this should be music to the ears of the Eagles’ All-Pro tailback.

QB Tony Romo

Describing quarterback Tony Romo’s 2012 campaign as ‘inconsistent’ may be an understatement. While he has thrown for 2,394 yards (putting him on pace for nearly 4,800 on the season) and 10 touchdowns, he has also thrown 13 interceptions. Of those, 7 have come in two games. A normally potent Cowboys offense has sputtered of late, and Dallas is averaging fewer than 19 points per game.

But the Eagles defense has been struggling as well. The pass defense started the year on a positive note, but in their two games since the bye, the Eagles have allowed five touchdowns through the air. The good news here is that the Eagles have history on their side. The last time Romo finished a game against the Eagles (he was injured early in the teams’ second meeting of the 2011 season), he threw for 203 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also had a season-low quarterback rating of 66.7. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will look to replicate that same success against the Cowboys’ quarterback on Sunday.

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