IRVING, Texas – Another work week come and gone, and suddenly it's time to gear up for Week 2.
We've talked a lot about the high-profile matchups in this division game – not to mention the high-profile absences. But I'm not convinced the end game changes too much for these two teams, despite the outside factors.
Dez Bryant won't be a part of this one, but the blueprint for winning looks familiar to the two games these two teams played last year – one impressive Eagles win, and one gutsy Cowboys effort.
Here are my keys for this week's matchup:
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
The last time that these two clubs met – the Cowboys took 76 snaps to the Eagles' 53. The Cowboys also held a 23-minute, 50-second time advantage in the game. To Chip Kelly that time of possession number might not mean as much, but for an offensive that prides itself on clicking off plays, it was a telling sign.
Of those 76 plays for the Cowboys, 42 of them were rushes. With an average of only 2.7 yards a carry, it might not have had the appearance of working, but it was exactly what they had to do to win the game. There were a ton of dirty runs for DeMarco Murray in that game, and with Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton once again up front for the Eagles, we can expect more of the same.
If the Cowboys are going to win this game, it is likely going to have to come on the toughness of their offensive line, tight ends and running backs. Tony Romo will do all that he can to put his teammates in the best possible position to have success, but it's going to come down to their ability to run the ball --whether that's for two or 10 yards – how well they control this Eagles front, click off those plays and finish drives will be the difference in how this game is won.
Philadelphia Eagles Win If:
There is no doubt that the Eagles have this Dallas defense in a disadvantage with the suspension of Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy, along with the injury to Randy Gregory. Throw in the loss of Orlando Scandrick and the prospects for the Cowboys look bleak.
As much as I want to believe that Chip Kelly will come out and try to establish a running game with DeMarco Murray, he runs the risk of going against a strength of this defense. The Eagles could have trouble blocking Tyrone Crawford, Anthony Hitchens and Sean Lee on the move -- which would greatly affect how they run the ball.
Where I expect Kelly to focus is on this secondary by forcing the pace and testing whether as a group they can correctly line up and execute their assignments. He is going to make this a mental game for guys like Morris Claiborne, Tyler Patmon and Byron Jones – all guys that have had limited experience playing in this league. Kelly is going to give these young guys a ton of looks, formation-wise, and not give them time to think about what they need to do with their assignments.
He is banking on the fact that he will not only create problems with his matchups, but they will also have lapses in coverage that will result in those chunk plays that hurt your defense. If the Eagles win this game it will be because of the pressure both mentally and physically to do their jobs down after down.