The Dallas Cowboys will head into Philadelphia with their backs against the wall. The Eagles are favored by a touchdown and this should be the most difficult task for the Cowboys so far. The margin for error will be small as the team will need to several players step up if they are to come out of Philly with a win, but which guys can ball out? Here are some X-Factor candidates who will need to be difference makers on Sunday night.
Danny Phantom: Xavier Su’a-Filo
It seems appropriate that Xavier is picked as the X-factor, but it’s not just because he has an X in his name. It was inevitable that whoever won the starting job at left guard this week would be highlighted for this game and it appears Su’a-Filo is going to be that guy. The Cowboys will be without Connor Williams this week as he underwent a knee scope, but a silver lining is that Williams has been struggling at times this season anyways. How much of a step down will it be going with Su’a-Filo in his spot? Maybe he does some things better? Hopefully, that’s the case because he’ll have his work cut out for him when he squares off against the Eagles defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Haloti Ngata. The Cowboys must get good blocking from their interior line to give Dak Prescott time and shore up the blocking for Ezekiel Elliott in the running game. How this offensive line performs could be the difference maker and the Cowboys offense needs all the help they can get.
Tom Ryle: Scott Linehan
This seems to be his last chance to perform a successful self-anal/cranial extraction and make some changes in his approach to the offense. If he approaches this game the same way he did the Titans flop, it is basically a direct challenge to Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett to do something. Of course, the early signs are not encouraging. Comments to the media from Jason Garrett have a “stay the course” feel to them, and Linehan still seems to be focused on execution, not adjustment/unpredictability. But another embarrassment on national television could be the tipping point for Jerry Jones, and Linehan would be idiotic to not act accordingly, no matter how secure he thinks his job is. If the Cowboys are to have even the slimmest of chances, the play-calling needs to be drastically better. Of course, that may just be beyond Linehan’s ability for whatever reason.
Michael Sisemore: Cole Beasley
The Eagles have an incredible defensive line that penetrates the gaps better than any line in the league. The Cowboys can’t continuously beat their heads against a wall trying to run it against Fletcher Cox and Michael Bennett. That doesn’t mean they need to give up on trying to establish the run but it may be better to set themselves up with the pass. The Eagles secondary just isn’t very good and they are banged up. Amari Cooper’s presence will draw some defensive attention and should allow them to pass aggressively. However, we’ve seen these Cowboys fail to exploit matchups before so it’s easier said than done in this case. Cole Beasley didn’t have his first target until the fourth quarter in Monday’s loss to the Titans. That’s unacceptable because Beasley is one of the best mismatch players in the NFL against a struggling Philly secondary that won’t have the answer for him. If the Cowboys want to win, they must stop beating themselves and start being a little more aggressive. Cole Beasley should be the biggest benefactor of this trade for Cooper but it’s going to require the coaches to draw up the gameplan that allowed them to hang 40 points on the Jaguars.
Let’s check with twitter and see what some fans had to say...
Etienne Roy: Dak’s legs
If Dak has designed run, so Dak leg's is the Xfactor— Étienne Roy (@10sakic) November 10, 2018
If the Cowboys want a repeat performance of the Jacksonville game, maybe they should let Dak Prescott loose running the ball? He had a career-high 11 rushing attempts for a career-high 82 yards in that game. It worked once already this season, why not again?
Calvin Clapdorp: Second half Ezekiel Ellliott
If we decide to use elliot in the second half or not— Calvin Clapdorp (@feartheclap) November 10, 2018
It’s weird because sometimes I feel this team does a lot better when they play with a sense of urgency and resort to more passing. But at the same time, the disappearance of Ezekiel Elliott in the second half can’t keep happening. There needs to be a balance, but the Cowboys might benefit from coming out passing as defenses are always ready to stop Zeke. Once the offense can demonstrate they can be a threat in the passing game, things start to open up better for Elliott.
Let Him Run: Dark horse special teamer
The last time we played a meaningful game it was Kyle Wilber's blocked punt, so I'll guess another Special Teams play... so how about a play from a guy like Covington, Olawale or Schultz?— Let Him Run! (@scraig2015) November 10, 2018
This one is interesting because special teams has come into play in each one of the Cowboys wins over the last three seasons. The Kyle Wilber block was big in 2015, Chris Jones swung the momentum back in 2016, and even Dan Bailey misses kept things interesting in the finale last year. Little did we know that would be his last ever attempt in a Cowboys uniform.
In a game where everything needs to go right for the Cowboys to pull out the win, a big play on special teams would come in handy. Which brings us to...
Thomas Howard: Chris Jones
Chris Jones. He’ll be busy.— Thomas Howard (@TO_Howard) November 10, 2018
Fun fact: Chris Jones has converted two fake-punts in his career when he used his legs and scampered off for a big gain. Both those plays happened during Sunday Night Football (last year against Oakland and in 2016 against Philadelphia).