Big Picture: 5 Storylines for Eagles & Cowboys

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For as much as the Cowboys' stunning loss to the Jaguars in overtime on Sunday will be lamented over this week, the truth of the matter is that there isn't much time to do so on a short week. The Cowboys saw their 17-point lead in Jacksonville evaporate in the second half that contributed to the loss but picked up a playoff spot in the process with the Giants' win over the Commanders.

Turn the page though, and clear your Christmas Eve schedules for this matchup against the Eagles. At 13-1, Philadelphia is likely to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the NFC East title, needing just one win or a Dallas loss the rest of the way with three games to go. But - they could be without one major contributor come Saturday.

Warm up the eggnog, give the kids their gifts early, and flip on the Frank Sinatra Christmas music. Here are the five storylines for the Eagles and Cowboys in Week 16.

Eagles:

  • Jalen Hurts suffered a sprained right throwing shoulder in the Eagles' win over the Bears on Sunday, leaving his status up in the air for this Saturday. Head coach Nick Sirianni said Tuesday there is a chance the MVP candidate could play, but should he not be able to go, back-up Gardner Minshew and third-stringer Ian Book would slide up a spot. Either way, Cowboys' head coach Mike McCarthy said they will "be ready for both quarterbacks."
  • Going back to Sunday's game against the Bears, Hurts passed for 315 yards and two interceptions, but also rushed for three touchdowns. Receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith were electric in the passing game, with the former racking up nine catches for 181 yards and the latter with five catches for 126 yards. Josh Sweat and Hasson Reddick each totaled two sacks, with Reddick recovering a fumble as well.
  • For all of the attention the Eagles' offensive production has garnered this season, and rightfully so, the defense has been more than impressive in their own right. They rank in the top 10 of most major defensive categories, but the most notable one is that they led the NFL in sacks at 55, six more than the Cowboys in second place with 49. Philly also allows the fewest passing yards per game this season.
  • In other Eagles' injury news, they got good news back on tight end Dallas Goedert who was activated off injured reserve with a shoulder injury that had placed him on the list in November. Despite missing five games, Goedert is still third on the team in receiving yards and tied for third in touchdown receptions. However, they will be without former Cowboys' defensive end Robert Quinn who they picked up midseason from the Bears. Quinn was placed on injured reserve at the beginning of December with a knee injury.
  • In the event that Minshew gets the nod over the banged-up Hurts, it's worth mentioning his start in Week 17 last season in Philadelphia in place of Hurts who was battling an ankle injury at the time. The Cowboys took that one 51-26, but Minshew passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns and a pick while also being sacked three times.

Cowboys:

  • The Cowboys will be without linebacker Leighton Vander Esch at least for Saturday's contest due to a neck injury. The good news is that the injury appears to have been a pinched nerve in his shoulder and not in conjunction with Vander Esch's prior neck injuries and he is expected to be back at some point before the end of the season. With the Cowboys already dealing with depth issues due to injury at the cornerback spot, both Jabril Cox and special teams extraordinaire Luke Gifford are in line to supplant Micah Parsons, Damone Clark, and Anthony Barr.
  • Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said on Monday that the team is in the process of assessing all of their options at the position this week. Trevon Diggs and rookie DaRon Bland have been excellent, but the loss of both Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown was felt on Sunday against the Jaguars with Kelvin Joseph being pulled late in the game. Quinn said the "competition is up for that spot" with some of the options being Nahshon Wright, Kendall Sheffield, Mackenzie Alexander, and Treyvon Mullen.
  • Though he was not active against the Jaguars, recent free agent receiver addition T.Y. Hilton looks like he could make his Cowboys debut this week against the Eagles. Hilton signed with the team just a little over a week ago and has been getting up to speed in rapid time since, while saying Tuesday he will be ready should he be activated. With CeeDee Lamb being the only consistent source of production at the receiver spot, Hilton could be a nice jolt to the group.
  • With Dak Prescott's interception bug continuing to rear its ugly head on a near weekly basis, including two more on Sunday and the backbreaking pick-six in overtime, owner/general manager Jerry Jones told 105.3 on Tuesday that Prescott's play was "outstanding" despite the two picks. Prescott passed 256 yards and three touchdowns as well but has thrown seven interceptions in his last four games.
  • Finally, the Cowboys had seemed to correct their run-stopping woes on defense in recent weeks but allowed nearly 200 rushing yards to Jacksonville and over seven yards a carry. Part of that could be attributed to the loss of Vander Esch and defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins, but have an Eagles' team that has the most rushing touchdowns in the league this season at 30 just ahead of the Cowboys with 22 and are fourth in rushing yards per game this season.

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