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Big Picture: Coming Off Big Win, Eagles Facing Rested, Healthier Cowboys


The biggest storyline for the Cowboys hasn't changed in the last few weeks and probably won't for another two or so. But there are more issues for the Cowboys other than the Dak Prescott-Tony Romo situation. For now, it appears Prescott will be the starter this week and it's not a given Romo will be ready for the Nov. 6 game in Cleveland.

But while Romo isn't supposed to return this week from a back injury, there are plenty of other players making their way back to action following the bye week.

For starters, receiver Dez Bryant headlines that list. Despite missing three straight games with a knee injury that was diagnosed as a hairline fracture, Bryant has practiced on a limited basis the last two weeks. He was practicing in full on Monday and all indications from The Star in Frisco suggest the Cowboys will indeed get their "X" factor back in action this week.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has missed three straight games with hamstring injuries but should be able to play this week. The Cowboys have more than gotten by with Anthony Brown manning the slot, but the defense will likely use both of them quite often, especially in their dime package.

Other injured players who were back on the field include running back Lance Dunbar (knee), cornerback Morris Claiborne (concussion) and offensive tackle Chaz Green (foot). Claiborne is expected to play this week but the status of the other two should be determined closer to kickoff. 

Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott continues to lead the NFL in rushing, even after last week's bye. Through six games, Elliott is on pace for a 1,874-yard rushing season, which is slightly ahead of Eric Dickerson's 1983 rookie record of 1,804 yards. Dickerson does have the NFL's all-time single-season record of 2,105 yards, set in 1984. 


The Eagles are coming off one of the more impressive wins of the season this past Sunday by handing the Vikings their first loss of 2016. Playing at home, Philly's defense got after their former quarterback in Sam Bradford, who was traded to the Vikings in early September for a pair of draft picks.

Led by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Eagles sent a variety of blitz packages at Bradford, who was sacked six times and hit about 10-12 times more than that. The Eagles were especially stingy in the red zone, getting three turnovers the first three times the Vikings got inside Philly's 20-yard line. One of those interceptions came from safety Rodney McLeod, who is tied for second in the NFL with three picks this season.

But the Eagles will be forced to shuffle the deck somewhat in the secondary after the season-ending injury to slot cornerback Ron Brooks, who suffered a quad injury. Philly is expected to slide safety Malcom Jenkins inside, where he will likely match up regularly with Cole Beasley, who leads the Cowboys in catches (33), yards (390) and touchdown receptions (three).

The Eagles did get cornerback Leodis McKelvin back last week after he missed three games with a hamstring injury earlier in the year. Obviously, Philadelphia will need all the help it can get at cornerback with Bryant expected to return to action this week.

The six-year, $102 million deal the Eagles gave to defensive tackle Fletcher Cox seems like a bargain, considering Cox has four sacks in the first six games of the season. As a team, the Eagles are tied for second in the NFL with 20 sacks.

On offense, rookie Carson Wentz threw two more interceptions last week against the Vikings, but still managed to lead the Eagles to a win over a stout defensive front. Wentz threw for a touchdown and ran for a 2-point conversion in the Eagles' 21-10 victory. He has a 92.7 quarterback rating, putting him right in the middle of the pack, ranked 16th.

Like the Cowboys did last year, the Eagles moved on from DeMarco Murray and have replaced him with several running backs. Ryan Mathews has 262 rushing yards, but Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood have both been electric out of the backfield.

The NFL has only two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season and the Eagles have both of them. Smallwood returned a kick 86 yards for a score two weeks ago against the Redskins. Last week, Josh Huff went 98 yards for a touchdown vs. Minnesota.

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