Eagles at Cowboys: 3 matchups to watch

The Eagles will travel down to Dallas this week to take on the Cowboys under the Monday Night Football lights. This is a huge game for both teams, for obvious reasons. Whoever takes this one will have the early tie breaker in the NFC East race and it’ll propel them into first place in the division.

There are a handful matchups to keep an eye on when these two teams meet, so let’s get right into them.

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Jalen Hurts vs. a bad Dallas pass defense

The Cowboys defense as a whole hasn’t been awful this year. They’re the 15th ranked defense in terms of total yardage allowed, but they continue to be abysmal defending the pass. Now, they have faced two great quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Justin Herbert to start the season, so this will be a game where we find out a lot about Jalen Hurts.

Is he the well oiled machine that we saw in Week 1, or is he closer to the inconsistent passer we witnessed last week? This matchup with Dallas will give us a clearer answer to that question.

Dallas has given up 692 yards through the air (346 passing yards per game), second-most in the NFL. They’ve allowed five passing touchdowns, a completion percentage of 69 percent, a passer rating of 92.6, and their pass rush has only totaled two sacks through two weeks.

This is by far the worst pass defense Hurts has faced all season. There’s no excuses for him in this one. He needs to be able to move the ball through the air on Monday night.

Lane Johnson vs. Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons made the transition to defensive end last week in the wake of Demarcus Lawrence’s injury and he didn’t disappoint. He finished Week 2 with seven pressures, one sack and one quarterback knockdown. We all knew Parsons had the potential to be an elite blitzer in the NFL, but I’m not sure if anyone envisioned him being this solid as a pure defensive end.

He matched up against Chargers right tackle Storm Norton last week, so he’ll most likely face Lane Johnson in this contest. Johnson, as always, has ben stout in pass blocking this season. In 74 pass blocking reps, Johnson has’t allowed a sack or a quarterback hit, and he’s only given up three quarterback pressures.

With Lawrence out, Parsons is easily the Cowboys best pass rusher, if not their best defensive player overall. Johnson will have his hands full, but he’s well equipped to contain Parsons. The Penn State product is an athletic freak and plays with a high motor, he doesn’t necessarily have a plethora of pass rushing moves.

The rest of the Eagles offensive line should be able to hold up against this subpar defensive front, Parsons is the only one with the potential to truly effect this game.

Eagles secondary vs. Cowboys elite wide receivers

The Cowboys lost slot receiver Michael Gallup in Week 1 with a calf injury, but they still have one of the best one-two punches on the outside with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.

The duo has combined for 31 receptions, 347 yards, and three touchdowns this season. Cooper and Lamb are two well rounded receivers whose strengths can exploit the best of secondaries. Their route running is second to none in the NFL.

While the Eagles have had downright awful cornerbacks in recent history, they’ve been a real strength for this defense in 2021. Each of the starting three corners, Darius Slay, Steven Nelson, and Avonte Maddox rank inside the top-20 cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus. Maddox and Slay in particular have been stellar through two weeks.

In 78 coverage snaps, Slay has allowed five receptions on nine targets (55.6 completion percentage), 33 yards through the air (only 6.6 yards per reception), and a passer rating of just 63.7. Maddox has been similarly dominant in his new role as the team’s nickel corner. In 52 coverage snaps, he’s given up four receptions on seven targets (57.1 completion percentage), 27 yards (6.8 yards per completion), and a passer rating of 65.8 when targeted.

For the first time in… maybe ever (?), the Eagles are well equipped to slow down the Dallas pass attack. They matchup well with their vaunted receiver duo, in a way they just haven’t been able to in year’s past.

The one thing this Eagles secondary does need to work on, though, is their ability to create turnovers. They have had opportunities to get takeaways throughout the first two weeks, they just haven’t been able to capitalize.

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