IRVING, Texas – Here are my keys to Thursday's Thanksgiving matchup against Philadelphia.
Cowboys Win If:
People can talk all they want about the pace with which the Eagles run their offense. They can talk about how much pressure their defense can generate on the pass rush, but to me it's very simple – the Cowboys need to turn this into a 60-minute fist fight on both sides of the ball.
I am talking about the type of game where, at the podium, the first words out of Jason Garrett's mouth is how proud he was of the physical toughness that his team showed that day. This game is about Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, Rolando McClain and Barry Church. It's about five guys upfront on an offensive line that has been called out by a second-year player who doesn't believe they have done anything to deserve the respect of him or his teammates.
At LSU we have never claimed to be the brightest, but to call out the Cowboys offensive line is a mistake that Bennie Logan and this Eagles defense need to pay for. Let's see if Logan and this Eagles defense can line up toe-to-toe and handle this Cowboys offense down after down – there is a side of me that believes they cannot.
If they get that kind of effort from their offense, and the defense comes with that same type attitude, sound assignments and play-making ability that they had against New Orleans and Seattle earlier in the year, they will walk off that field with the NFC East division lead.
Eagles Win If:
Both offenses have incredible skill players at all the positions. The advantage the Cowboys hold is along the offensive line, but when you talk about playmakers at receiver, tight end and running back they are very even.
What I have noticed about studying Sanchez is, since taking over for Nick Foles, his ability to get the ball to his playmakers and allow them to work for him. His 8.1 yards per attempt puts him fourth in the league -- just behind Romo but ahead of Peyton Manning -- which puts him in pretty good company. With the good, there has also been some bad.
If there is an area that still haunts Sanchez, it's his struggles with his interceptions, which are at six for the year. But even with these turnovers his completion percentage of 62.3 percent is at a career high -- which is up from his days with the Jets, where he was at 54.5 percent. Since coming over and working with Chip Kelly in this scheme, he has done a much better job with his accuracy to the point where he actually plays like a real NFL quarterback and not the punch line to a joke.
I believe it will be difficult for either of these defenses to slow down the other offense on Thursday. If that is in fact the case, then it will come down to these quarterbacks and which one will make enough plays in the game to convert third downs, manage red zone situations but more importantly limit their mistakes with the turnovers.
These are areas in which Tony Romo has shined in all season. For the Philadelphia Eagles to win this football game on Thursday afternoon, I believe Sanchez is going to have to outplay Romo for the entire game and not just a drive or two. Neither team can afford their quarterback to struggle, especially the visiting Eagles.