The Eagles will travel down to Jerry World on Monday night for their prime time matchup with the Cowboys. This is a pivotal game for several reasons. The winner will take hold of first place in the NFC East and set themselves up with some much needed early season momentum.
Here’s everything you need to know heading into this Monday night contest.
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OUT: LT Jordan Mailata (knee), S Rodney McLeod (knee), DE Brandon Graham (IR), RG Brandon Brooks (IR)
Questionable: LB Davion Taylor (calf), RB Boston Scott (illness)
Philadelphia will enter this game with a handful of key injuries. We knew Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks would miss this game immediately following last week’s game, but the Jordan Mailata injury threw a wrench into things. Andre Dillard is expected to start in his place, his first NFL start since his rookie campaign. Two new starters along the offensive line is never ideal, but the Cowboys don’t have a particularly stout defensive line.
Rodney McLeod will miss his third straight game, Marcus Epps and K’Von Wallace will fill in for him. Davion Taylor and Boston Scott are both questionable, but neither would have serious impacts on this game if they were healthy.
OUT: DE Dorance Armstrong (ankle), Carlos Watkins (knee), OT Ty Nsekhe (illness), DE Demarcus Lawrence (IR), RT La’el Collins (suspended), WR Michael Gallup (IR)
DOUBTFUL: S Donovan Wilson (groin)
COVID LIST: LB Keanu Neal
While the Eagles will be without a handful of starters on Monday night, Dallas is dealing with their fair share of injuries as well. Their defensive line is depleted, with Armstrong, Watkins, and Lawrence all out. Starting right tackle La’el Collins has been suspended for five games, and wideout Michael Gallup hasn’t suited up since Week 1.
Keanu Neal tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, so he’ll miss Monday’s game. Micah Parsons will have to play back at his natural linebacker position, as opposed to starting on the edge.
Biggest offensive threat to Philly: Dallas’ passing attack
While Dak Prescott has certainly had his highlights when facing Philly, the Eagles have actually done a nice job containing him throughout the years. In eight career games against Prescott, the Eagles have allowed 234.6 passing yards per game, eight touchdowns to seven interceptions, a completion percentage of 63.9%, and a passer rating of 83.5.
It’s important to note that the Eagles have typically had a bottom-half pass defense in those games as well. And as they prepare to enter this contest, Philadelphia has one of the best pass defenses in football. They’ve allowed 325 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and an average of 5.4 yards per pass attempt through two games.
The Eagles trio of corners have been lights out through two games. In total, they’ve allowed 16 completions on 27 targets for a combined passer rating of 79.6 when targeted. Dallas has been without slot receiver Michael Gallup since Week 1, but their duo of outside receivers can torch any defense. Through two games, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb have combined for 31 receptions for 347 yards and three touchdowns.
The real chess match in this game will be between the Birds corners and the Cowboys receivers. We’ll find out how legit the Eagles secondary is after this contest.
Biggest area of weakness for Dallas’ offense: RT Terence Steele
With La’el Collins out in this one, Dallas will turn to second-year right tackle Terence Steele to replace him. He was their primary starter last season when Collins was injured, and he wasn’t very good. Steele allowed 48 total pressures, nine sacks, and five quarterback hits on 616 pass blocking snaps in 2020.
He’s been just as bad in his pass sets this year, giving up three pressures on 32 pass blocking reps and posting a pass blocking grade of 24.6 per PFF. Despite Brandon Graham being out for the year, the Eagles defensive line should still be able to exploit Dallas’ right tackle. With a combination of Josh Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan, there’s no reason they shouldn’t provide ample pressure off the right edge.
Neither Sweat nor Kerrigan have recorded a single sack yet this season. Expect that to change after Monday’s matchup.
Biggest defensive threat to Philly: Micah Parsons
Regardless of the fact that he’s a rookie, Micah Parsons may already be the best defensive player on Dallas’ roster. He has been effective at both linebacker and defensive end this season. Last week, Parsons tallied seven pressures, one sack, and one quarterback knockdown as the team’s starting defensive end.
Without Demarcus Lawrence, his pass rushing ability has been invaluable to Dallas. But now that Keanu Neal is set to miss Monday’s game, he may have to spend more time at his natural linebacker position. Regardless of where he lines up, the Eagles need to account for him.
Per PFF, Parsons has an 85.1 overall grade with a 80.1 mark against the run and an astounding 91.1 grade rushing the passer. If he does line up as a defensive end, he’ll likely face Lane Johnson on the right side. Johnson has been stout in his pass blocking sets this year, only allowing three pressures on 74 pass blocking plays. But, don’t be shocked if they move Parsons to the left side to give him a more favorable matchup with Andre Dillard, who will be starting in place of Jordan Mailata.
Parsons has the ability to wreck a game plan with his versatility. If the Eagles want to effectively move the ball against this defense, Parsons will need to be covered up on nearly every play.
Biggest area of weakness for Dallas’ defense: Cornerback
It’s no secret that the Cowboys have a subpar cornerback group. Entering Week 3, Dallas has surrendered 692 yards through the air, second-most in the league. They’ve allowed five passing touchdowns, a completion percentage of 69%, and a passer rating of 92.6.
Jalen Hurts and Co. faced a similarly bad pass defense last week against San Francisco, but they didn’t find much success, only recording 190 passing yards on the day. There will be no excuses heading into this one.
We’ll get a much clearer picture on Hurts after this one. Is he the lights out passer we saw in Week 1, or is he closer to the subpar quarterback we witnessed last week? The answer will be given to us during this Monday night game.
Both teams are dealing with injuries heading into this game, so there’s no reason to use that as an excuse beforehand. I like the Eagles in certain matchups, but I’m cautious to guarantee that they’ll be able to exploit them at a hight rate.
This is still a young team with a rookie head coach and a quarterback who’s only started six NFL games. The little miscues we saw last week that ultimately decided that contest will likely plague this team for at least the next few games.
Expecting the Eagles to go into Dallas on prime time, down three key starters, facing a superior quarterback and come out with a victory is a very tall order. And to be honest, I don’t believe this team is ready to take on this type of challenge and come out on top.
It’ll be a close one, but the Eagles will shoot themselves in the foot one too many times to eek out the W. I’m going with Dallas 28-24. But as always, it’s still Go Birds and I hope I’m wrong.
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