The regular season is coming to a close, and the playoffs are on the horizon. For both of these teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, their playoff tickets have been punched, and this is the final stop before things get real. The word around the team in Dallas is that the Cowboys plan to play their starters, but the real question that remains is just how much.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has been on the fence about how he is going to allocate playing time for his ball club. The Eagles seemingly have less to play for on Saturday night than the Cowboys do as they are either going to be the sixth or seventh seed. The feeling around the Eagles camp is they may use this opportunity to get healthy and try to be as full strength as they can heading into the following weekend as they are banged up, and are also dealing with a COVID outbreak among the team.
You can look at all three phases of both these teams and convincingly state that there is an X-Factor on all three units. However, these two individuals, one a Cowboy, one a member of the Eagles, will have the biggest impact on Sunday’s game.
Dallas Cowboys X-Factor:
With the true level of importance for this game being up for debate, the one thing that has been talked about and is absolutely something that should take place is the increase of reps for Kelvin Joseph. The young cornerback from Kentucky is hoped to be paired along side Trevon Diggs for years to come, but outside of some mop up duty, and a game against the Washington Football Team, his reps at cornerback have been minimal.
The Cowboys would be smart to ramp up his opportunities this week, and by doing so you can think about the here and now as well as preparing for the future. Joseph is one injury away, or one COVID sickness away, to being thrust into a meaningful role. The Cowboys should use this opportunity to build confidence and familiarity, while giving the starters a breather as they all get ready to head into the playoff race.
Philadelphia Eagles X-Factor:
For the first time all year in our X-Factor series, a coach has been named instead of a player. It may be different, but it really shouldn't be too surprising. How Sirianni decides to handle his team this week will dictate what we can expect to see on Saturday. An Eagles team led by Gardner Minshew has a different feel than one led by Jalen Hurts.
Comparatively speaking, it is also an interesting peer study to see what a team in a similar situation as you is deciding to do. The Eagles are winners of four straight, and if momentum is a thing that coaches truly value, wouldn't you think the team would try to continue that hot streak heading into the playoffs? Or would one say getting healthier and rested would be better than winning a game with minimal to no meaning for either squad? It is something to ponder and debate. One of the Cowboys biggest strengths heading into the playoffs is their health is very good, if not the best in the entire league. Is this game and what is at stake worth risking that advantage in January? There are so many ‘what ifs’ heading into this week, and not many of which have to actually do with the outcome of the game itself. That is why Nick Sirianni and the staff in Philly are the opponents X-Factor for the final time of the regular season.