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Big Picture: 5 Storylines for Cowboys & Eagles

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Sunday night brings a battle for first place that's never been seen before. The Eagles and Cowboys have met as the front runners of the NFC East countless times before and especially over the last half decade. The difference this year is that the meeting doesn't come as two league-best teams who are fighting for an extra home game on their way to a Super Bowl run. Instead, they each have just two wins through the first seven weeks of the season and are dealing with much maligned rosters. Regardless, things are the way they are and games like this still mold the way a season will go, positively or negatively. Here are five more important storylines for each team heading into Sunday Night's matchup with the Eagles.

Eagles

  • Philadelphia comes off their first divisional win of the season following a come-from-behind win over the Giants on Thursday Night Football. Trailing 21-10 with six minutes left was no match for the Eagles to strung together two straight 70-plus yard drives to steal the win out of the hands of a stumbling Daniel Jones and company. The win put the Eagles on top of the NFC East standings, a position they held on to following Week 7 due to the Cowboys loss to Washington.
  • Much like the Cowboys in 2020, there has been a massive shift in who is available on the offensive line for Philadelphia this season. Carson Wentz has been sacked a total of 28 times and is pressured on the majority of his drop-backs over the last three weeks… sound familiar? Jason Peters and Andre Dillard are both on the injured reserve list while Lane Johnson and Jack Driscoll each missed the Week 7 matchup with the Giants with ankle injuries. While they hope to get a couple of starters back up front, the overall health of the Eagles offensive line looks a lot like Dallas.
  • Things don't look much better for the Eagles when you address the injury situation outside of the tackles as well. While they still have their quarterback, Philadelphia has seen injuries to their main receiving targets DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor, and Alshon Jeffery while Marquise Goodwin opted out prior to the start of the season. Moving across the hallway into the tight ends room, both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are on IR at the moment which carries massive weight in the passing game as well as blocking schemes.
  • Carson Wentz got off to a horrid start to the season, mostly due to the revolving door on his offensive line and the availability of his receiving corps. Regardless, the former second overall pick has continued to keep the franchise relevant in the early parts of the year. Specifically, against the Giants, Wentz went 5-7 for 121 yards and 2 scores over the final two drives alone, cementing his fourth comeback with of double-digit points or more since 2019 (tied for the most in the NFL).
  • The red zone has been a trouble spot for the Eagles as Doug Pederson dialed up a 3-for-8 mark from the 20-yard line in. Red zone efficiency has never been a problem for a Pederson-led squad but this season they have scored on a mediocre 60 percent of drives, good enough for 21st in the league. Part of the struggles can undoubtably be chalked up to the absence of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, the top two goal line threats on the roster who are both on IR. Moving the ball has not been the issue for the Eagles, it's finishing the deal without their tight ends and Miles Sanders at tailback, which put more pressure on Wentz to deliver in crunch time.

Cowboys

  •  The Cowboys decided to trade away defensive end Everson Griffen, who was sent to Detroit on Tuesday for a conditional draft pick. Griffen, a captain last week against Washington, ranked second on the team with 2.5 sacks and third in QB pressures with 14. The Cowboys can get up to a fifth-round pick from the Lions depending on the conditions of the trade and how Griffen performs in Detroit. Having played his entire career in Minnesota, Griffen could face his former team twice this season.
  • The Cowboys seem to be getting some reinforcements in the form of players returning from injury. This week should mark the return to practice for both Sean Lee (groin) and Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) after each spent a significant time on IR. On the offensive side of the football it is unclear whether or not Zack Martin will be cleared to play Sunday night. Last week Cowboys COO Stephen Jones mentioned that the training staff was hopeful for his return to the guard spot this week after he suffered a concussion in the loss to Arizona in Week 6. All three returns would be more than a welcome sight for a team that looks to gain a foothold in the division this week.
  • Head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned Monday that Andy Dalton was in the building but only to meet with the training staff rather than being a part of the quarterback meetings. Dalton left the Washington game in the third quarter after taking a vicious hit to the head that resulted in a concussion. Ben DiNucci, who stepped in backup duty last week, is who looks to be the starter should Dalton not be able to play. DiNucci is a seventh-round draft pick out of James Madison University whose last start came in the FCS national championship game that ironically took place in Frisco at Toyota Stadium.
  • Jerry Jones noted his frustration with the lack of execution during the loss against Washington during his weekly interview with 105.3 The Fan. Most notably he mentioned the lack of success in the middle of the defense in stopping the run. Saying that there will be personnel changes 'for sure' up front in order to offset the disappointing output. He went on to mention that the Cowboys are always looking to add good football players and have the financial means to 'go get good football players' despite not making a move at the moment.
  • Despite the frustrating start to the Mike McCarthy era in Dallas, multiple members of the Cowboys front office have backed up their new hire. Stephen Jones mentioned Monday that McCarthy is still the right man for the job and that he fully expects him to grab a hold of the downward trend and turn it around. Jerry Jones echoed that sentiment Tuesday in saying that if they were looking for someone to hire for the current situation, that McCarthy would still be that man because of the elements and experience he brings to the table. McCarthy did not make the playoffs in two of his first three years in Green Bay and never finished with less than six wins in a complete season during his head coaching tenure.

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