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Key Matchups: Can DaRon Bland rebound against Brown?


FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys are set to square off against the Philadelphia Eagles for the second time this season on Sunday night as they look to keep their four-game winning streak and their 14-game home winning streak alive in what is shaping up to be easily the biggest game of the regular season.

Certain matchups caused Dallas problems the first time around in week nine when the Cowboys fell just short of a comeback attempt, 28-23, but there was also a lot to take away positively from the first matchup.

Heading into week 14, both teams are relatively healthy for being at this latter part of the season, and it will allow for some primetime matchups for a primetime game. Let's take a look at some of the ones to watch on Sunday night.

DaRon Bland vs. A.J. Brown

Even though he is still on pace to earn his first All-Pro honor in 2023, DaRon Bland had easily his worst game of his young career last Thursday night in defending DK Metcalf – specifically in the first half. However, he rebounded in the second half with an interception and lockdown coverage in the fourth quarter that helped assist in three consecutive fourth down stops for the Dallas defense.

This week, he will take on the challenge of trying to limit Philadelphia's talented receiving corps for the second time this season, but it's his matchup with A.J. Brown that'll be the one to keep a close eye on.

In their week nine matchup, Brown hauled in two receptions for 15 yards and a touchdown on four targets while being guarded by Bland. They lined up opposite each other for seven routes in that game. In this week's game, it'll be critical for Bland to stay locked in on Brown when the two line up, especially after last week's outing. Bland will get tested. Can he show that it would be a bad idea to throw his way?

Micah Parsons vs. Jordan Mailata

Micah Parsons hasn't found much competition when rushing the passer this season, but neither has Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata in defending elite pass rushers. Back in week nine, Mailata got the best of Parsons in their 13 matchups by allowing just one pressure to the Defensive of the Year candidate.

Mailata is coming off a horrid two-game stretch of allowing 14 pressures on Jalen Hurts and is in need of a rebound effort while Parsons is averaging over seven pressures per game since the loss to the Eagles in week nine.

Parsons brings elite athleticism to the table when rushing the passer, but can sometimes struggle with overpowering strength which is what the 6-foot-8, 365-pound Mailata brings to the table. Parsons will be moved along the offensive line for better matchups that can let his athleticism win, but when matched up with Mailata, it will be something to watch from a pure strength standpoint.

Terence Steele vs. Haason Reddick/Brandon Graham

In week nine, Terence Steele had his worst game of the season in allowing 12 pressures and four sacks on Dak Prescott in the 28-23 loss, including one on the final drive that pushed Dallas out of the red zone. Since then, Steele has rebounded and has allowed just 12 pressures total in the last four games along with zero sacks.

Steele faced most of his issues when he lined up against Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham who combined for three sacks and 10 pressures on Prescott. There is a little bit of redemption in Steele's mentality heading into this week, and it would be fulfilled by limiting the Eagles' defensive front in his week 14 matchup.

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