Arguably the best rivalry in the NFL today will be front and center on Sunday Night Football in what should be another great game between arch rivals.
The NFC East renaissance takes center stage when the undefeated Eagles host the Cowboys on Sunday night (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC), with implications not just for the divisional race but in early jockeying for playoff positioning in the NFC. It features a pair of top-10 defenses, two quarterbacks in Jalen Hurts and Cooper Rush — assuming Dak Prescott remains sidelined following thumb surgery — who have exceeded expectations, and a host of rising stars that includes Dallas defenders Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs and Eagles receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
Key Cowboys-Eagles matchup to watch
Archer: Cowboys pass rush vs. Eagles offensive line
For the football nerds, this will be heaven. Strength vs. strength. The Cowboys are second in the league in sacks. The Eagles’ offensive line is considered one of the best — if not the best — in the NFL, although, as Tim mentioned, they enter this one banged up almost across the board. While Parsons gets a lot of national attention, the pass rush goes beyond him.
McManus: A.J. Brown vs. Trevon Diggs
Diggs’ nine pass break-ups lead the league. He’s a big play waiting to happen, as evidenced by his two interception returns for touchdowns last year. But his consistency as a defender has dipped, at least in the early going of the season. Quarterbacks are completing 63% of their passes against him, compared to 52% in 2021. And he’s already given up a pair of touchdowns, versus four all of last year.
Good to see the NFL giving Parsons some much deserved props for his play.
After the game on Sunday, Micah Parsons didn’t hold back in announcing his quest to someday surpass Rams’ DT Aaron Donald as the best defensive player in all of football.
For one week anyway, the NFL seems to agree, putting Parsons above all defensive players in the NFC. For the second time in his young career, Parsons has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
He’s the first Cowboys player to win Defensive Player of the Week since he won it last year as a rookie. Parsons had four tackles for loss in a win against the Vikings. Ironically enough, that was Cooper Rush’s first career start. Now, Rush is 5-0 as a starter, but just like his first win, the Cowboys’ defense has led the way, just as it did on Sunday – holding the defending-champion Rams to just 10 points, and none in the second half.
Despite Rush’s 4-0 record, Dak Prescott has to return as Cowboys starter - Adam Schultz, Inside The Star
Cooper Rush has been serviceable, but he certainly isn’t an elite player like Prescott.
When Dak Prescott left the game late against the Buccaneers in Week 1, many thought the Cowboys’ season was done and dusted. It thrust Cooper Rush into the spotlight, something he had done once last season. To say that Rush has played superbly well would be an understatement. However, it is more so staying in his lane and managing the team.
He hasn’t been asked to throw 35 times like Prescott last year; instead, Kellen Moore has whipped up a game plan that has been tailored with Rush in at quarterback. The running game has been a superb sidekick for Rush, and the defense, well, they have just been lights out, haven’t they?
It is undeniable that Dak Prescott is the team’s starter when fit, and it begs the question, when will Dak be fit? The consensus is that he would be ready for the Eagles game. While still only midweek, at the time of writing, it is unknown whether he will be penciled in or not.
With Dallas sitting at 4-1, that has bought Prescott time to heal his injured hand. Had Dallas been 2-3 or 1-4, the urgency to rush him back would be huge. Thankfully, due to Rush’s ability to manage games and not being forced to throw Dallas to a win, the Cowboys have reeled off four consecutive victories.
Should Dallas consider bringing in outside pieces at this stage in the season?
We are now past the Week 5 slate of games, and the trade deadline is less than three weeks away. With the Dallas Cowboys sitting at 4-1 after a big win over the Los Angeles Rams, adding another impact player to help put this team amongst the elite should certainly be on the minds of Jerry and Stephen Jones.
5. Darius Slayton, WR New York Giants
This may not be a popular one for Cowboys fans, but Darius Slayton could use a fresh start. After the arrivals of Kenny Golladay, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Kadarius Toney, the once-promising receiver prospect has been buried on the depth chart behind the likes of those listed and Sterling Shepherd.
3. D.J Moore, WR Carolina Panthers
Perhaps the highest-profile player on this list is star receiver D.J Moore. This is definitely a more unlikely trade candidate for the Cowboys, but it is most certainly a call they should make. Kick the tires on him, Jerry Jones. Do your due diligence, please.
Moore has yet to have a competent quarterback to play with, yet he still has produced at an elite clip over the past few years. The star receiver has racked up three straight 1000+ yard seasons, while also totaling 12 touchdowns in that span.
The Cowboys and 49ers Pass Rushing Makes Their Quarterbacks Look Good - Mike Tanier, The New York Times
Having a quality pass rush gives the team a huge lift, and makes it easier to win football games with a backup QB at the helm.
If a team wants to make its ordinary quarterback look outstanding, all it has to do is pressure the daylights out of his counterpart.
Cooper Rush of the Dallas Cowboys is an ordinary-at-best quarterback who has spent his five N.F.L. seasons as a barely used backup. Yet this season, Rush has led the Cowboys to four straight victories in relief of Dak Prescott.
He has done so in large part because the Cowboys pass rush of Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. has sacked opposing quarterbacks 20 times for 128 yards, and the Cowboys defense has held opponents to just 14.4 points per game.
Take the Cowboys victory against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5, for example. Armstrong forced a Matthew Stafford fumble which Lawrence returned for a touchdown on the opening drive, then blocked a punt to set up a short Cowboys field goal. The Cowboys led, 9-0, before Rush completed a single pass, and he played with a lead most of the way to a 22-10 victory.
Rush has attempted just 26 passes with the Cowboys trailing this season, 57 while leading. That’s practically the inverse of the typical N.F.L. ratio. It’s easy for a quarterback to go four games without an interception when he spends most fourth quarters handing off.
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