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Cowboys vs. Eagles: Each team’s X-factor player for Sunday

Sunday night will be a battle for the early season lead in the NFC East between Dallas and Philadelphia.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Any time the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles come together you know it is going to be a battle. It may not always translate to the field, but between these two fanbases, the stakes are always high for bragging rights with their most hated rival. This year much more than pride and bragging rights are on the line. The Cowboys come into Philly at 4-1, where they will square off against the league’s last unbeaten team, the 5-0 Eagles.

This game is of equal early season importance to both teams. For the Cowboys a loss means they are two games back of the division lead with a loss in the head-to-head matchup which would widen the gap. On the positive side for the Cowboys, a win in this game, especially with all indications being it will be Cooper Rush under center, would go a long way in stamping that they are the supreme leader in the division regardless of the Eagles early season start. The heat is on the Eagles to produce on Sunday night. If the Eagles spent all this capital and made all these moves for this team to still lose to a backup QB and their biggest rival, it would certainly be a tough pill to swallow coming out of the game.

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:

Tony Pollard

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We mentioned it earlier and it is worth repeating, all indications heading into Sunday night is that Cowboys will need to go through at least one more game without their starting QB, Dak Prescott. With that, all eyes once again will be on Cooper Rush and this offense to do enough to complement this defense. This is where you insert this week’s X-factor Tony Pollard. Pollard is a dynamic, game-breaking running back who has shown us time and time again he is capable of hitting the big run for this Cowboys offense. Dallas will need to see more of that from him Sunday if they are going to knock off the undefeated Eagles.

The run game has done a good job of doing enough to protect Rush, but in this game the Cowboys may need to be more explosive to get the job done. Pollard brings that explosion and big-play ability as he showed last week versus the Los Angeles Rams. Kellen Moore and the offense has done a better job of evening up the carries between Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott except for last week, and while Zeke is a major piece to this Cowboys offense, this may be the week that the Cowboys look to Pollard and his homerun style to carry the load. If the Cowboys are able to continue to protect Rush and limit his turnover-worthy plays like they have been able to do in their four-game win streak, Tony Pollard and this rushing attack may have enough firepower to win this football game.

Philadelphia Eagles X-factor:

Jalen Hurts

Syndication: Arizona Republic Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

When you look at this Eagles team, it starts with Jalen Hurts. This team will go as far as Hurts is able to take them, and through the first five games of the season it sure looks like he has elevated his play to allow them to go places. Hurts has amassed 1,359 passing yards with a 67.9 completion percentage and four passing TDs. As far as rushing goes, Hurts has totaled 185 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the teams first five games. Hurts has always been dangerous with his legs, but what you have seen this season is a better passer as well. You typically see this type of development from a player when you surround him with talent on the outside and a quality offensive line, but give credit where it is due as that is exactly what the Eagles have done for their young QB.

The Cowboys will need to be on point on Sunday night because Hurts is dynamic with the football in his hand and is unafraid to tuck it and run when he needs to. The Cowboys may be best served to put a spy on him on key downs. Someone like a Jayron Kearse who can match the athleticism, or even a Donovan Wilson who can bring the physicality to Hurts that may make him think twice before taking off. Either way the Cowboys decide to handle the Hurts problem, it is clear that Hurts is the Eagles X-factor on Sunday. If the Cowboys are able to frustrate the quarterback and his play reflects, it may be the key indicator for a Cowboys victory when it is all said and done.

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