Eagles Offense vs. Cowboys Defense

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and a pivotal division showdown looms between the Eagles and Cowboys.


Four of Cody Parkey's five field goals on Sunday came from inside the red zone. Realistically, the Eagles could have won 59-24 had they converted those missed opportunities into touchdowns. Fortunately, Philadelphia was dominant otherwise against the Titans on both sides of the ball, stifling enough to win by a comfortable margin.

Turnovers are still proving to be an issue with the Birds, after a pair of interceptions on Sunday. As generally seems to be the case, one is blamed on poor quarterback fundamentals, and the other can be hung on the receiver not fighting for the ball. Such miscues aren't going to wash easily as the race for the playoffs heats up, and Chip Kelly is openly saying as much. The honest appraisal only goes so far.

Mark Sanchez

The first Sanchez pick from Sunday saw Riley Cooper get boxed out by defender Brandon Ghee, almost no assertion from Cooper whatsoever. The second, Sanchez threw flat-footed with the rush in his face, and overshot Zach Ertz. On the upside, Sanchez had a pretty solid day otherwise, completing almost 70 percent of his throws (30 of 43), albeit against a now 2-and-9 team. Ray Horton's defense or not, you expect a little better from the quarterback.

KEY STAT: Sunday was Sanchez's first game of the season finishing with under a passer rating of 80.0 (78.3)

LeSean McCoy

Shady's up-and-down season trended up on Sunday with 130 rushing yards on 21 carries (6.19 YPA), as well as a rushing touchdown. McCoy is surprisingly third in the NFL in rushing yards, despite the off-year by his standards. To make matters weirder, Sunday's win was the first time McCoy reached 100 yards and ran for a touchdown in the same game this season. It's also the first time McCoy scored a Sunday touchdown, as his previous two came in Monday night games. Hopefully, he continues to trend upward.

KEY STAT: McCoy has finally reached 4.0 yards a run for the first time all season, rounded up from 3.96.

Jordan Matthews

First eight games, Matthews peaked in yards with 59. The last three games with Sanchez at the helm, Matthews reached 138, 107, and 77 yards, with three touchdowns (Matthews caught a fourth when Sanchez played in relief against the Texans). The rookie's breaking out with increased reliability downfield, and an uptick in aggression (breaking tackles, etc).

KEY STAT: Matthews currently has the seventh most receiving yards of any Eagles rookie ever with 635; he's 138 from tying Jeremy Maclin, and 277 from tying DeSean Jackson.

Evan Mathis

Mathis is finding his way back to form as one of the premier run-blockers in the NFL, grading highly in the run for the third straight game. As Mathis solidifies the left side of the line with Jason Peters, McCoy will continue to put up strong performances for the remainder of this season. Such strong play was the reason the Eagles won seven of their last eight games in 2013.

KEY STAT: Pro Football Focus grades Mathis as the 11th most efficient guard in pass-blocking over the past three weeks.


Since holding the Texans to 17 points in an overtime win on October 5, the Cowboys have given up 20 points in every game but one (17 to Jacksonville, November 9). In that stretch, Dallas has gone 4-2, losing both games when the offense was held to a mere 17 points. In fact, in the four wins, Dallas scored either 30 or 31 in each.

Is that to say that Dallas is in trouble if the offense doesn't overpower and exploit obvious mismatches? To their credit, Barry Church was able to snag a crucial pick of Eli Manning on Sunday night, helping to undo New York's incredible first half effort. Aside from the timely play, the Cowboys are a defense that bends, bordering on breaking, and plays just well enough to let the offense do the rest.

Tyrone Crawford

Crawford's a name you may not recognize from the Cowboys defense, as he plays situationally, and doesn't draw a lot of attention. A silent killer, Crawford plays the most consistently of any pass-rusher on the team. He doesn't have a sack to his credit this season (Dallas only has 17 as a team), but Crawford works like Fletcher Cox, forcing the quarterback off point and creating discomfort. Crawford can play either side of the line, or line up in the middle.

KEY STAT: Across ten games, Crawford brings 18 hurries and nine quarterback hits, as well as 13 run stops.

Rolando McClain

Once troubled, unwanted, and retired, McClain found new life as a consummate run stopper for this defensive unit. On Sunday night, McClain caused ten stops of Giants running backs at or behind the line; he's had no fewer than two stops per game this season. If his problems are truly in the past, then McClain will find continued passage as one of the most dangerous open-field players in this defense.

KEY STAT: In his first five games as a Cowboy, McClain never played more than 49 snaps. Across the last four, McClain's played in no less than 61.

Brandon Carr

The win Sunday night was small consolation for Carr, who become the supporting actor in the social media frenzy that was Odell Beckham's insane touchdown catch that gives David Tyree's a run for its money. Carr has yet to intercept a pass this season, and has proven a near-total liability in pass coverage. Quarterbacks complete over 60 percent of their throws his way, and without safety help, even Riley Cooper could have a bounce-back game leaping over him.

KEY STAT: Quarterbacks maintain a 118.1 passer rating throwing at Carr, with four touchdowns and no picks.

Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used to write this story.

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