Eagles-Dallas: What we're watching

Donovan McNabb will lead the Eagles into Dallas on Sunday with the NFC East title and a first-round bye on the line. (AP PHOTOS)

Domo: Eagles-Cowboys What We’ll Be Watching

Eagles’ offensive line without Jamaal Jackson. The timing of Jackson’s season-ending knee injury couldn’t be worse. His replacement Nick Cole, has 23 career starts, but all of them have been at guard. On Sunday, he’ll make his first career start at center against one of the best nose tackles in the league, Jay Ratliff. Ratliff manhandled the Redskins’ veteran center, Casey Rabach, last week.

The turnover battle. Eagles are second in the league in takeaways (37) and turnover differential (plus-15). Thirty-three of those 37 takeaways have come in their 11 wins. But the Cowboys have turned the ball over just 18 times this season, the fourth fewest giveaways in the league. They’ve got just 2 giveaways in the last 5 games. Once interception-prone Tony Romo has the third best interception percentage in the league.

Cowboys’ ground attack. The Cowboys’ three-pronged running attack of Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice sets up their passing game. They are second in the league in yards per carry (4.8) and have averaged 125.9 rushing yards per game in their 11 wins. Eagles did a good job against the run in the first meeting, holding Barber and Co. to 3.3 yards per carry.

Third-down defense. The Eagles defense couldn’t get off the field against the Cowboys in their first meeting, allowing them to convert 7 of 15 third-down opportunities, including 4 of 9 third-and-longs (8 yards or more). Three of the Cowboys’ 4 scoring drives included at least one third-and-long conversion, including 21- and 17-yard completions to little-used wide receiver Kevin Ogletree.

The DeSean Show. Jackson was a non-factor in the early-November loss to the Cowboys, He caught just 2 passes for 29 yards and returned just 1 of 3 punts for 9 yards. In his 6 starts since, he’s got 34 receptions for 590 yards and 5 TDs. Seven of those 34 receptions and 3 of those TDs have been 30-plus yards.


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