(Editor's Note: Every Tuesday, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will present "The Big Picture" for the upcoming game, providing an overall update for each team. This week, the Cowboys and Eagles battle for positioning in the NFC East in a Week 9 matchup at AT&T Stadium.)
WHAT: Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) at Dallas Cowboys (2-5) *WHEN:Sunday, Nov. 8, 7:30 (CST) WHERE:AT&T Stadium TELEVISION: NBC*
There aren't many teams on a five-game losing streak that have as much optimism as the Cowboys seem to have as we enter the month of November.
As bad as it has been for the Cowboys to lose these five games without Tony Romo, and mostly without Dez Bryant, the fact that they remain in the hunt of this mediocre NFC East gives the team hope.
Not only that, but a win Sunday night would give Dallas a 3-1 record in the division, with a season sweep over the Eagles, who would have the same overall record as the Cowboys at 3-5.
But that's a pretty big "if" considering the Cowboys haven't won a game since Sept. 20. However, back to the glass-half-full theory, the last victory by this team was against the Eagles in Philadelphia, where they limited DeMarco Murray to just 2 yards rushing. The Eagles rushed for only 7 yards as a team, but minus-2 combined by their three tailbacks.
The Cowboys defense will certainly try to duplicate that performance, and also build upon a solid showing against Seattle, who only scored 13 points. However, the Seahawks did drive the length of the field in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead field goal in the final minutes, spoiling a valiant effort by the Cowboys defense, which produced its first turnover since the Week 2 win over the Eagles.
On offense, Bryant returned last week, but had just two catches while facing Richard Sherman for most of the day. Matt Cassel passed for only 97 yards as it was clear he wasn't about to force the kind of throws that led to the three-interception game two weeks ago in New York.
The Cowboys enter this week's matchup with Darren McFadden prepared to start his second straight game. Christine Michael and Rod Smith could carry more of the load, especially now that the Cowboys have parted ways with Joseph Randle, who was cut on Tuesday.
The Eagles are coming off their bye week and should be fully prepared for the rematch with Dallas.
At 3-4, it's only fitting that the Eagles are close to a .500 record because a lot of their statistical rankings are right near the middle of the NFL. Philly ranks 17th in scoring at 22.9 points per game, 15th in rushing offense (114.4 yards per game), 19th in passing offense (238.7) and 17th in total defense (360.4 yards allowed per game).
One area that is a major difference when compared to the Cowboys is turnover margin. The Eagles rank sixth in the NFL with a plus-6 margin, compared to the Cowboys, who rank 30th at minus-8.
The Eagles appeared to get things back on track offensively with a pair of blowout wins at home. They defeated the Saints 39-17 with 519 total yards of offense, followed by a 27-7 win over the Giants that saw 428 offensive yards. But then came a road setback to the Panthers, 27-16, which dropped them to 1-3 on the road this year.
After rushing for just 47 yards in his first three games, Murray has bounced back in his last three, rushing for 260 yards, although he continues to split time with Ryan Mathews, who is barely ahead of Murray for the team lead in rushing, 342-307.
On defense, Eagles linebacker Kiko Alonzo is expected to play again for the first time since the Cowboys' victory in Week 2, when he suffered a knee injury that forced him out of the game.