Eagles/Cowboys Preview & Prediction

The Dallas Cowboys will face off with the Philadelphia Eagles for the 98th time Monday night at Texas Stadium. TheRanchReport.com has an extensive preview and prediction inside!

KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET

GAMEDATE: 9/15/08

SURFACE: Sportfield Realgrass

TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser)

SERIES: 98th meeting. Cowboys lead the series, 54-43. Eagles have won 12 of the last 16 meetings and 3 of the last 4. They split last season's home-and-home, with the Eagles winning in Dallas (10-6) and the Cowboys winning in Philadelphia (38-17).

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles got a huge effort from rookie WR DeSean Jackson against St. Louis, but McNabb will have his work cut out for him against the Cowboys if WR Reggie Brown isn't able to return to give him another reliable target. Expect coach Andy Reid to use Brian Westbrook in the short passing game early on to keep the Cowboys' aggressive pass rush at bay, and for McNabb to continue to look for TE L.J. Smith in important situations. ... How effective Cowboys RB Marion Barber is despite bruised ribs will be a big factor because the Eagles aren't likely to be as susceptible to rookie backup Felix Jones' speed as Cleveland was. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson may use CB Asante Samuel to shadow WR Terrell Owens. Lito Sheppard, now the nickel back, was used in that role last season. Also critical is pressuring QB Tony Romo, who was 13-for-36 and sacked four times in the Eagles' win in Dallas last season.

KEY INJURIES: Eagles: WR Kevin Curtis (sports hernia surgery) could return as soon as Oct. 5 against Washington; Brown (hamstring) appears to be 50-50; LG Kyle Kosier (foot) will again be replaced by Corey Proctor; WR Miles Austin (knee sprain) is practicing but likely a game-time decision.

FAST FACTS: McNabb needs two touchdown passes to pass Ron Jaworski (175) for most in franchise history. Jaworski will be calling the game for ESPN. ... The Cowboys lead the NFL with 40 wins on Monday nights.

EAGLES PERSONNEL NEWS: WR Reggie Brown, who missed last week's game with a hamstring injury, participated on a limited basis in Thursday's practice and still is questionable for Monday night's game against the Cowboys.

--S Sean Considine, who suffered a hand injury in last week's game against the Rams, participated fully in practice Thursday and is expected to play Monday night against the Cowboys.

--CB Asante Samuel may shadow Cowboys WR Terrell Owens Monday night. When the Eagles and Cowboys met last December, Lito Sheppard was assigned to Owens. But Sheppard no longer is a starter.

--S Brian Dawkins appears to be completely recovered from his preseason ankle injury. He left last week's game for a few plays, but that was because of a mild case of dehydration.

--WR DeSean Jackson will make his second NFL start Monday night. The rookie will start regardless of whether Reggie Brown plays or not.

COWBOYS PERSONNEL NEWS: CB Terence Newman did more in practice Thursday than at any point last week, but he is still questionable for Monday's game against the Eagles. He has been out since the first week of camp with a groin injury.

--RB Marion Barber again practiced without limitations. He will play Monday and is not having any ill effects from the rib injury he suffered in the season opener. Barber feels so good he will not wear any protective padding on his ribs.

--WR Miles Austin remains limited in practice and is questionable for Monday's game with a sprained knee. The Cowboys are hopeful of playing him after sitting out the season opener. If he plays, he will be the third receiver.

--WR Terrell Owens said the Cowboys are not only "way more talented" than the Eagles team he was on that went to the Super Bowl, but any other team he has played on.

"This is probably one of the best that I've been on," Owens said. "I think, pretty much, the talent that we have is pretty much at every position."

But Owens, understanding the magnitude of the game and the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry, was only happy to do his part.

He denied that part of the reason he signed with the Cowboys after he left Philadelphia was to get back at them on a yearly basis. But he knows it's good theatre.

"Obviously it brings a little bit more excitement to the game," Owens said. "It's good for you guys as far as pregame and during the course of the week trying to get it pumped up, so I look forward to it just like everybody else."

INSIDE THE EAGLES CAMPS: Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson usually doesn't match up his cornerbacks against specific wide receivers. He has his left cornerback pick up whomever lines up on the left side and has his right cornerback do the same on the right side.

But in last December's 10-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Johnson departed from his usual approach and had Lito Sheppard shadow the Cowboys' Terrell Owens the entire game. The result: Owens, who caught 10 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in a 38-17 win over the Eagles a month earlier, was held to two catches for 37 yards.

Sheppard, a two-time Pro Bowler, lost his starting job in the offseason when the Eagles signed Asante Samuel to a seven-year, $56 million contract. But Johnson said there's a good possibility he'll have one or the other or both tail Owens when the two teams face each other Monday night in an important early-season NFC East battle.

"We may end up doing that," Johnson said. "It worked out pretty well last year. We'll see."

Samuel now starts at Sheppard's left cornerback spot. Sheldon Brown is the team's right corner and Sheppard the third corner. But Johnson plans to have all three on the field quite a bit. Samuel played all 40 defensive snaps against the Rams last week, while Brown played 32 and Sheppard 28.

"Lito will be out there," head coach Andy Reid said. "(The snaps) really evened out last week. They all got good numbers."

INSIDE THE COWBOYS CAMP: Either Terrell Owens is a great hype man or he still hates Donovan McNabb. Either way, it's great theatre during Eagles-Cowboys week.

Owens didn't hold back anything when asked on Wednesday why he has been successful in Dallas after failing in Philadelphia.

First and foremost, he said the Cowboys paid him top dollar, making him happy.

Secondly, he said McNabb couldn't handle his success, which led to the fractured relationship that greased the skids for his departure from Philadelphia.

"I think the fans and just the excitement of me coming there and being there, it became too overwhelming for Donovan," Owens said. "Other than that, I think at one point in time I will say that we had a good relationship. I think I got too big for Philly, too big for him."

While Owens says there were some things he could have done differently, it was McNabb who let his pride get in the way, Owens said.

"I just feel like in a sense that he felt like I was just probably getting too much attention," Owens said. "It is what it is. I can only do so much. Everywhere that I've gone, the cameras follow me. I'm going to get a great deal of fan support and a fan base. I can remember being in that stadium and hearing them chanting my name. That couldn't bode well for Donovan to hear that. It was an every-week thing."

McNabb refused to answer questions about Owens during a conference call on Wednesday.

"It's unfortunate the way things ended up but he's happy where he's at and I'm happy where I'm at," McNabb said. "We just want to continue to keep things positive and continue to fulfill our dreams."

PREDICTION: Cowboys 27-24

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