Everything about this game and how significant it is should be obvious. These are two division rivals who have one loss between them in mid-October. Factor in that they happen to hate one another, and that the division has largely belonged to Dallas or Philadelphia for the better part of the last decade, and this is another chapter being written in a story that usually tends to deliver.
Considering how important the Cowboys and Eagles rivalry is we have a special podcast available for you on the Blogging The Boys podcast network every week called the NFC East Mixtape that keeps tabs on the division as a whole. It is hosted by myself and Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Gowton and this week we decided to have a special second episode of the Mixtape that we streamed live on the BTB YouTube Channel on Thursday night.
Make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss any of our shows! Every single day features two different shows in addition to daily updates similar to the ones that start every morning here on site. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
While we already curated Brandon’s opinion on the birds in our five questions-and-answers exchange here on site, we have decided to do something else that is the same idea as that but with a bit of a twist.
Obviously nobody knows the Eagles better than the folks over at BGN and while we are all hoping that our individual teams win there also exists a reality that they do not. What would be the factors that contribute to a loss from Philadelphia? Brandon has given us his three reasons and I have done the same for him over on their site.
So what could lead to the first loss of the season for the Eagles? Here is what Brandon had to say.
The Eagles offensive line is banged up
Four of the Eagles’ five starting offensive linemen appeared on the injury report this week: left tackle Jordan Mailata, left guard Landon Dickerson, center Jason Kelce, and right guard Isaac Seumalo.
While all of these players are expected to start on Sunday night, there are still some big questions to wonder about. Will they be playing at significantly less than 100%? Will they be able to avoid re-injury that could cause them to miss snaps in this game? At full health, the Eagles arguably have the best offensive line in the NFL. Relative to other teams, they have reasonably good depth as well. But the Birds are going to need their blockers to bring their A-game against a Cowboys pass rush that ranks first overall by Pro Football Focus grading and second in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate.
Micah Parsons is the most intimidating defender the Cowboys have had in some time. It feels like it’s going to be pretty hard to shut him down all game long. He’s going to get his at some point. And it’s not like Parsons is the only problem they have to deal with. DeMarcus Lawrence, Durance Armstrong, and Dante Fowler Jr. are all capable of generating pressure as well.
As if playing through pain wasn’t challenging enough, the Eagles’ offensive linemen are going to be mightily challenged on Sunday night. The Cowboys’ pass rush could really wear on them and force some starters out of the game.
The Eagles are not good at tackling
The Eagles have missed 48 tackles in five games this season. That’s a lot! Philly is the third-worst tackling team by PFF’s grading.
The Cowboys could be in position to take advantage. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliot have each forced nine missed tackles this season. Dallas will probably look to run the ball to keep their offense on schedule and set Cooper Rush up with shorts distances to go on second and third downs. It’s up to the Eagles to prove they can avoid allowing extra yardage by tackling well.
While the Dallas defense playing so well, it’s not like the Cowboys necessarily need to march up and down the field all game long. It could be one critical missed tackle that leads to a big scoring play. Not unlike how the Eagles allowed a catch-and-run touchdown by Marquise Brown last week that should’ve been stopped for a much smaller gain.
There is nothing special about the Eagles special teams unit
Philly’s special teams unit ranks 27th by PFF’s grading and 26th by Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
The Eagles are using a kicker who might be less than 100%. Jake Elliott missed Week 5 due to an ankle injury. He’s set to play on Sunday night but he was limited in practice this week. If this ends up being a relatively low scoring game, which seems possible, a single missed kick could loom large.
Eagles punter Arryn Siposs has been better recently. But he was previously too often kicking punts that ended up in the end zone for touchbacks instead of giving the Birds a chance to pin the opposing offense back deep in their own territory. Asking Cooper Rush to drive the entire field multiple times feels like an ideal setup.
KaVontae Turpin is probably the most dangerous returner the Eagles have faced thus far. He’s capable of breaking off a big play or two.
Eagles returner Britain Covey, meanwhile, has not looked very threatening to the opposition thus far. And he’s already muffed two punts.