The NFL is a game of matchups and Monday night's NFC East battle at Dallas is no exception. Here is a six-pack of matchups – some individual, some statistical – that will have bearing on the Eagles' 2021 prime-time debut.
1. Dallas speed rushers off the edge vs. Eagles offensive tackles
Randy Gregory and Micah Parsons personify speed and quickness off the line of scrimmage. Gregory has been activated from the COVID list and Parsons, drafted as a linebacker, showed his versatility last week in the Cowboys' win over the Chargers by rushing off the edge and wreaking havoc in the Los Angeles backfield. This is a particularly important matchup for the Eagles and tackles Lane Johnson and Andre Dillard. The Eagles have the advantage in terms of bulk and power, but both Johnson and Dillard must be prepared for that jolt of speed off the edge that Dallas brings. The Cowboys won't have Dorance Armstrong (ankle) for the game, and second-year end Bradlee Anae was in COVID-19 protocol on Sunday. Dallas is already without its best end, DeMarcus Lawrence, who broke a bone in his foot a couple of weeks ago.
2. Giveaways vs. Takeaways
The immovable object vs. the immovable force? Maybe not exactly that, but this is an interesting statistic line to keep an eye on: The Eagles have yet to turn the football over on offense (knocking profusely on wood) and Dallas leads the NFL in takeaways, with six. Ball security is such a huge priority for the Eagles, and you just know the Cowboys are going to be ballhawking on Monday night. Jalen Hurts has made good decisions and has been very careful in and out of the pocket in the 1-1 start. Of course, the Eagles' defense has the same objective against a Dallas offense that has two giveaways. Of all the statistical crunching we'll do during the course of Monday night's game, the turnover ratio may be the one that tells the tale.
3. Dallas' explosive passing game vs. Eagles' stingy pass defense
We know that Jonathan Gannon's defense has done a good job limiting explosive plays – last Sunday's 40-yard catch-and-run play from wide receiver Deebo Samuel, along with a 21-yard run from JaMycal Hasty are the only plays of 20-plus yards permitted in two weeks – and Monday night's test will be significant. Dallas has a big-play passing attack with Dak Prescott on top of his game and working well with wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. The Eagles need to generate pressure on the front end and cover and tackle well on the back end. Gannon has opted for mostly zone coverage through two weeks. What wrinkles will he throw at Prescott and the Cowboys in this one?
4. Eagles LBs vs. Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard as pass catchers
Elliott's rushing numbers against the Eagles are always highlighted – he has 789 yards and is averaging 4.67 yards per carry in eight games against Philadelphia – but he's also been a huge weapon in the passing game with 43 receptions, 322 yards, and a score. Pollard is in his third season and he's coming on strong both as a running back – he has 123 yards on 16 carries this season – and a receiver, with seven receptions for 60 yards. The Eagles' linebackers must support against the run and cover in space. As dangerous as the Cowboys are throwing the ball down the field, they are also lethal if Prescott is able to dump off to his backs to keep the chains moving.
5. Eagles defensive line vs. Cowboys offensive line
Replacing Brandon Graham has been a theme all week in Philadelphia and we all know it's going to take everyone on the line to step up. How the Eagles match up against a very strong offensive line – guard Zack Martin against tackles Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave is a matchup to spotlight – is such a huge key here. Terence Steele is the right tackle with La'el Collins serving his NFL suspension, and Steele played extremely well last week in the win over the Chargers. Left tackle Tyron Smith is one of the game's best. Dallas is strong up front. The Eagles believe that the defensive line is a strength of the team, and the Eagles aim to dominate in the trenches.
6. Eagles TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert vs. Dallas LBs
Ertz and Goedert are a dynamic duo that has combined for nine receptions 106 yards and a touchdown in two games and they will very much be in the sights of a Dallas linebacker corps that is fast and plays well sideline to sideline. Goedert has 21 receptions and three touchdowns in six career games against Dallas, while Ertz has 66 receptions for 641 yards and four scores in 15 games against Dallas. Two of the best tight ends in the game against one of the best linebacker groups is the NFL is a battle that could have a big impact on Monday night.