IRVING, Texas – This game feels interesting as far as divisional rivalries go, because so much is new – but there's still plenty of familiarity.
New members of this matchup are going to make an impact, obviously. The Cowboys will face DeMarco Murray for the first time as a member of the Eagles, not to mention Ryan Mathews. Dez Bryant also won't be on hand to test the newest members of the Philadelphia secondary.
I'm curious to watch to specific matchups – one new, one old. In the absence of Orlando Scandrick, the Cowboys have quite a challenge on their hands in dealing with second-year slot receiver Jordan Matthews.
Elsewhere, two of the most promising young members of each of these clubs play for their respective lines – offensive for Dallas, defensive for Philly.
Let's take a look:
Cowboys CB Tyler Patmon against Eagles WR Jordan Matthews
Matthews will not scare Patmon with his speed or quickness in this game. Where Matthews will give Patmon problems is with his size -- due to the fact that Matthews is much larger than most receivers you see in the slot. Patmon can run with Matthews all day, but for him to handle the challenge, he is going to have to be physical right off the snap.
The key for Patmon is not to allow Matthews to get up the field on him and into the route. Patmon needs to be in position to disrupt Matthews and make him have to stop – then start again which not only throws his timing off, but the timing of Sam Bradford as well. The idea of Chip Kelly's scheme is to get the ball out of the quarterback's hand as quickly as possible, and if as a defense you can alter that – then you have a chance to affect its performance.
Patmon and his defensive teammates will also need to be ready for a host of different formations. Kelly likes to position his receivers in a way that allows them to run all different route combinations. Studying their tape, you can get a feeling that Kelly is creating opportunities for Matthews to be that go-to-guy.
Patmon is going to have to be ready to carry him all over the field, but also be ready to deal with his size -- which I believe he can do.
Cowboys C Travis Frederick against Eagles NT Bennie Logan
If there has been an area of improvement in Travis Frederick's game as a starting center, it has been in his ability to deal with a man playing on his nose. There were times early in his career where he struggled having to deal with a man that played right on top of him that had quickness and power.
Eagles nose tackle Bennie Logan presents a unique challenge for Frederick, because when you think of a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme – you usually are talking about a 320-to-340-pound player. With Logan, Frederick is dealing with a guy that goes about 309 pounds and could easily play as an under-tackle in a 4-3 scheme.
Logan has those types of traits like what the Cowboys had in Jay Ratliff when he lined up over the center. Where Frederick has to be careful with Logan is in those snaps where he has to reach hard to his front side to cut him off. Logan is so explosive in the way that he attacks the gap and gets up the field that he can be in the backfield before the play has a chance to get going.
Frederick is best when he can put himself between the defender and ball and make that defender have to run through him. This is going to be a difficult matchup for Frederick, but if Dallas is going to have any success running the ball in this game – it is going to have to come from him playing well at the point of attack.