Here is a look at what we'll be watching during Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:
1. Seeing Red. The Eagles and the Cowboys own the two worst red-zone defenses in the NFL. The Eagles have given up 26 touchdowns to opponents in 33 trips inside the 20 (78.8 percent), and the Cowboys have allowed 21 in 35 (60.0 percent) opportunities. If one of these two defenses can manage to make a couple of red-zone stops Sunday night, it could be the difference between victory and defeat.
2. Grounding the Cowboys. Despite the presence of three very good running backs, the Cowboys ignored their ground game for most of the first half of the season. But since Jason Garrett was named the interim head coach, they’ve been much more committed to it. They’ve averaged 34 carries per game in the last four games and have averaged 4.4 yards per carry. They’ve thrown more than 26 passes just once in the last four games.
3. The screen game. Running back LeSean McCoy has been even more effective as a receiver this season than a rusher. He is seventh in the league in receptions with 67, the most by any NFL running back. He has been especially effective on screens, which have helped keep opposing pass rushes off-balance.
4. Human target. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has been taking a beating from defenders who continue to go for the kill shot both in and out of the pocket in the hope of knocking him out of the game and weakening the Eagles. Vick is giving them plenty of opportunities. He has run the ball 48 times in the last five games and doesn’t know how to slide.
5. On the bubble. In their back-to-back wins over the Eagles last January, the Cowboys were very effective attacking the defense and thwarting the Eagles’ blitz with bubble screens to the wide receivers. Stopping wide-receiver screens was a point of emphasis for Sean McDermott’s defense in the offseason and they have done a better job against them this year.
To read our earlier post on Asante Samuel's injury and more, click here.
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