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Keys To The Game: Slowing The Philly Front & Frustrating Wentz Are Crucial

FRISCO, Texas – The Eagles are the last remaining NFC East team the Cowboys have not faced this season, so there's no shortage of tape for these guys to watch on each other.

Having broken both teams down this week, here are the two biggest keys I think will help determine a winner:

Dallas Cowboys win if:

The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to rushing the passer. Their front is outstanding with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Bennie Logan and Connor Barwin. The Eagles rely on their front to win games by creating turnovers and negative plays.

Defensively, they also create problems when they blitz. Opponents are 22-of-35 with five sacks and no touchdowns when Jim Schwartz brings pressure. The Eagles have also created two interceptions in these situations.

Schwartz and Scott Linehan worked together in Detroit, so he will understand how Linehan will set up his call sheet. There is no secret that Linehan wants to run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and give Dak Prescott manageable down and distance snaps. The Cowboys need to run the ball well to wear down this Eagles defensive line.

Their backups are not as effective as Cox, Graham, Logan and Barwin, which slows down this pass rush and Schwartz's ability to blitz. Controlling this Philadelphia Eagles front controls the game, and, much like the Cincinnati and Green Bay games, secures the victory.

Philadelphia Eagles win if:

Offensively, the Eagles are one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to converting on third downs -- ranking 29th. For the season, they have only converted on 25-of-74 attempts (34 percent). What is strange about these numbers is when you think about bringing pressure, it is usually on third down. But this is when Carson Wentz is actually a more productive quarterback. When opponents blitz him, he is 37-of-47 for 339 yards and three touchdowns with a rating of 109.

Defensively, this actually plays into the Cowboys' hands because they struggle to get pressure and rarely get home on a blitz. With Orlando Scandrick back in the lineup, I would expect that we might see a blitz or two by him from the slot.

The Cowboys also lead the league in the least amount of passes dropped, while the Eagles are ranked 27th in this area. For the Eagles to win this game, they are going to need to make some more plays in the passing game -- especially down the field. Wentz is only 3-of-9 in passes that travel between 21 and 30 yards and only 1-of-6 in passes from 31 to 40 yards.

Dallas wants to make you drive the ball and then get you off the field on a mistake. For the Eagles to win, they can't drop passes and Carson Wentz is going to have to be more efficient on third downs.


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