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Game Preview – DAL at PHI


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Game Preview – DAL at PHI

Posted: October 14th, 2022 | Author: Tommy Lawlor 

The 4-1 Cowboys come to Philly to take on the 5-0 Eagles on Sunday night in one of the biggest games of the young season. The Eagles are the better overall team, while Dallas has a red hot defense. This has the makings of a big time game.

The Dallas defense is drawing a ton of praise, and rightfully so.

3rd in points allowed
7th in yards allowed
2nd in sacks
7th in opponent passer rating
6th in defensive DVOA

They have only allowed 5 TDs all season long. You might recall that the Eagles gave up 5 TDs in the season opener.

Pretty darn good.

If you want to read an article about the Dallas defense and how they are having such success, here you go.

Let’s push back on this defense a little bit. They have been really good while going up against some of the worst OLs in the league. The Eagles will present a much tougher challenge. Dallas has also been vulnerable to the run game. They have allowed 142 or more yards in 3 of 5 games. With all the stunting they do, they are vulnerable to giving up big runs.

Sunday night’s game will be a big test for both teams. Dallas will find out just how good their defense is. This will be the best defense Jalen Hurts has faced. And both teams need this game for playoff positioning. I know that sounds crazy in mid-October, but this is important.


The Eagles have passed every test they’ve faced this year. Dallas has too, since the opener. Someone is going to fail on Sunday night.


Believe it or not, Dallas has an offense as well as a defense. Cooper Rush is 4-0 since taking over after Dak Prescott’s injury. Some fans want Rush to keep the job even when Dak is healthy, but that is nuts. Dallas is averaging 22.5 points in those games. That includes one defensive TD and multiple short drives set up by big plays on defense and STs.

Rush is playing well in the sense of not making mistakes and making a couple of key plays a game. He’s helping his team win. That’s commendable, but let’s not mistake that for him playing well. He hasn’t had to win a shootout. He hasn’t had to lead Dallas on a comeback. They are winning despite a limited passing game right now.

For some context, watch the video below.


If the Eagles can limit the Dallas run game, Rush will have to make plays against a tough defense. I’m not sure he’s good enough to get that done. He doesn’t have ideal pocket presence. If  you pressure him, he gets very uncomfortable.

Stopping Ezekiel Elliott is easier said than done. He’s put up big numbers in 6 of his last 8 games against the Eagles. To be fair, the Eagles defense is better this year and will be tougher for him to run on. Tony Pollard averages 5.6 ypc so he’s tough for everybody to stop.

The Eagles DL should be able to win some of the matchups with the Dallas OL. Rookie LT Tyler Smith will have his hands full with Josh Sweat. RT Terrence Steele will have his hands full with Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham. Javon Hargrave should be able to be LG Connor McGovern. I’m interested to see if DT Jordan Davis can continue his improved play. He could be a big factor against the run and also pushing the pocket against a QB who doesn’t run that much.

The Eagles can play more man coverage this week if they want to. That would free up an extra player to go into the box and help with the run. This has the feel of an old school game where you want to stop the run on early downs and force Dallas into known passing situations.

The Cowboys could come out throwing, trying to catch the Eagles off-guard. The Eagles have a good enough secondary that they should be able to contain the Dallas receivers. CeeDee Lamb, Noah Brown and Michael Gallup are all talented receivers. With Slay, Bradberry and Maddox, I think the Eagles match up pretty well.

The Eagles have a clear advantage on this side of the ball and they need to win this matchup.


Micah Parsons is arguably the most disruptive defensive player in the NFL. He’s got 6 sacks, 7 TFLs and 12 QB hits. Taco Charlton would have killed to have those numbers for a full season. Parsons getting them in 5 games is crazy, especially when you factor in that teams build their gameplans on dealing with him. Parsons is a great athlete who can win with speed, explosion or power. He also plays hard. Really hard. Parsons flies around the field. It is incredibly impressive when star players hustle at the level he does.

The Dallas DL is outstanding. DeMarcus Lawrence has 3 sacks and can be a force off the edge. Dorrance Armstrong has a great motor. Dante Fowler comes off the bench and makes plays. The DTs are 1-gap types that love to attack upfield and disrupt.

The hard part in dealing with this group is knowing what to do. Parsons will play LB and DE. He’ll rush off the edge or blitz up the middle. He might not rush at all. The DL does a lot of stunting so you aren’t always sure where they are going to be attacking.

The Cowboys don’t play a static defense. They love to mix things up.


They are interested in getting their best players on the field and aren’t as focused on conventional matchups. This helps them to make plays, but leaves them vulnerable at times. Explosive runs have been an issue for the Dallas defense.

Beyond the front seven, the secondary will mix things up.


They want QBs to have to take an extra second to figure out what the coverage is. That gives the Cowboys rush more time to get home and that is a real problem because they are so good up front.

Trevon Diggs is still a playmaker. He’s got 2 picks and 9 PBUs this year. He’s also still vulnerable. He gave up two pass plays of more than 50 yards on Sunday. You can go at him. Safety Donovan Wilson is the team’s leading tackler.

This really feels like a game where the Eagles should try to run the ball a lot. Parsons is a solid run defender, but he’s not the disruptive force that he is when rushing the passer. I’m not overly impressed with Leighton Vander Esch or Anthony Barr as run defenders. Neither looks overly comfortable in traffic. They’d rather chase the ball or attack upfield.

The Eagles have arguably the best OL in the league. If they can get their running game going, that could make life tough for the Cowboys. The Eagles could mix in tempo as a weapon. Dallas likes to rotate players. Their system requires fresh legs so the DL can attack and make plays. If you can keep them on the field, you can wear them down a bit.

While I’ve talked about the run game, Hurts will need to throw the ball and make plays. I am curious to see if Diggs is on Brown or DeVonta or if he just plays one side. Smith was 3-28 in the first Dallas game last year, but Hurts did throw for 326 yards. The Eagles had 5 pass plays of 24 or more yards in that game. There are plays to be made.


I’m really curious to see if the Eagles can make Dallas uncomfortable. The Cowboys lost to Tampa 19-3 in the season opener. Since then they haven’t trailed by more than seven points. They never trailed against the Bengals or Rams. They were down 13-6 to the Giants and 7-6 to Washington. I would love to see the Eagles get up 14-0 to see how Dallas responds. They might be just fine. They might struggle. We haven’t seen Cooper Rush in that situation this year.

By the way…the Eagles have led in every game by at least 14 points.

One area where Dallas has an advantage is special teams. They are ranked 5th in STs DVOA. The Eagles are down at 26th. KaVontae Turpin gives Dallas an explosive returner. He was great in the postseason and has come close to breaking a big return in the regular season. Last week Dallas blocked a punt. They are very well coached and very aggressive. The Eagles need to come away with a draw in this matchup.



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