Each week, we give you insight into what we will be keeping our eyes on during the upcoming Eagles game:
1. The Cowboys’ ground game. Held to 3.3 yards per carry in their four-point win over the Eagles in Week 9, the Cowboys ran all over the Eagles last week, piling up 179 yards, the most allowed by the Birds this season. As Quintin Mikell correctly pointed out, ``that pretty much opened everything (else) up.’’ If they can’t control Marion Barber and Felix Jones Saturday, Eagles have no shot – zero -- to win.
2. DeSean’s production. The Cowboys have done a very good job on the Eagles’ big-play wide receiver this season, holding him to five catches for 76 yards and no TDs in the two games. Jackson aggravated a groin injury in the second half Sunday and clearly wasn’t the same player afterward. How much effect it will have on his play this week is uncertain at this point. Jackson has not been listed on the injury report this week and has practiced every day.
3. The third-down story. The Eagles have struggled on third down both offensively and defensively in their two losses to the Cowboys. The offense converted just 7 of 24 third-down tries, including 3 of 12 last week. In the their last two games vs. Eagles, the Cowboys' offense has converted 12 of 28 (42.8) third-down opportunities, including 4 of 6 in the first half.
4. New and improved Romo. Not so long ago, if you could get pressure on Tony Romo, you usually could count on him self-destructing. But no more. In the Cowboys’ last six games, he’s thrown 11 TD passes and just two interceptions in 220 attempts. In two games vs. the Eagles, he’s got a .661 completion percentage and has averaged 9.09 yards per attempt.
5. As the first half turns. The Eagles have had the lead at halftime in 11 games this season and have won them all. They’ve trailed in five at the half and have lost all 5, including both Cowboys games. They’ve been outscored 27-6 in the first half by Cowboys. In their other 14 games, they’ve outscored their opponents 267-132 in the first two quarters. Bottom line: Eagles need to start fast and make the Cowboys play catch-up in the second half.
NUMBERS TO PONDER
* Nine teams have played each other in the final game of the regular-season and the first round of the playoffs. Just four times did the winner of the first game also win the rematch.