Football analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout who now works for NFL Network and serves as an analyst for DallasCowboys.com, gives his weekly keys to the game Saturday, providing specific points of emphasis for both the Cowboys and Eagles.
The Cowboys will win if…
The Cowboys must commit to playing complementary football against the Eagles. The offense needs to run the ball effectively, with Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott finding running room behind a reshuffled offensive line specializing in moving defenders off the ball. Dak Prescott will need to make a handful of plays in the passing game while avoiding the costly turnovers that have undermined the Cowboys' efforts in recent weeks. If the veteran exhibits patience and discipline against the Eagles' soft coverage, he will eventually hit a big play when the secondary falls asleep on a key down.
Defensively, the Cowboys must stop the run early and force the Eagles to rely on their backup quarterback. Gardner Minshew is a streaky gunslinger with adequate talent, but he has been prone to mistakes when harassed consistently in the pocket. If the game becomes a shootout with the Eagles forced to rely on their QB2, the Cowboys will chalk up a big win on Saturday.
The Eagles will win if…
The Eagles are the most complete team in football due to a star-studded roster loaded with offensive and defensive talent. The team's depth will be challenged, with Jalen Hurts on the sideline and Gardner Minshew earning the start. Without Hurts on the field, the Eagles will rely on a traditional running game complemented with RPOs to keep the Cowboys' defense from teeing off on Miles Sanders. AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith will need to get their touches on screens, quicks and isolation routes to take advantage of Minshew's quick release. In addition, the Eagles should script some double moves into the call sheet to attack the cornerbacks opposite Trevon Diggs.
Defensively, the Eagles must stop the run on early downs and force Prescott to throw against loaded zones. In addition, the early stops will enable the pass rush to attack some favorable matchups at the point of attack. Considering how well the Eagles' pass rush has fared against every opponent, this game could hinge on their ability to stop Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard on the ground.