IRVING, Texas – It's only been two weeks since the Cowboys and Eagles played, so there aren't the same differences between the two teams that you might normally expect.
That said, we're familiar enough by now with the Eagles that I did switch up my weekly preview. It's a testament to how dangerous their players are that last time around I previewed Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Bennie Logan.
For the rematch, I'm looking at three entirely new guys – all of whom have the ability to hurt the Cowboys badly on Sunday.
Weapon: Darren Sproles, RB
I could have gone several different ways here, seeing that these teams met just two weeks ago -- but I stuck with the one player that can tilt the field in his team's favor.
When I watch Darren Sproles play, it reminds me of those days of watching Barry Sanders play in Detroit. I say this because every time Sanders touched the ball, I held my breath in anticipation of what could happen. Sproles has that same type of hold-your-breath ability.
This Chip Kelly scheme is perfect for him in that it doesn't ask him to pound the ball between the tackles, but instead play in space -- which makes him dangerous. Where Sproles doesn't get the credit he deserves is in his abilities as a receiver. There are plenty of explosive running backs in this league, but you can't line them wide like a receiver and throw the ball their direction and expect good results. There are plenty of snaps where you see him wheel out of the backfield and catch the ball on the move, all while adjusting in space.
He just has a knack for making very difficult plays appear simple. You also have to factor in his contributions on special teams as a punt returner. He puts a tremendous amount of stress on your cover team to get bodies down the field to deal with his elusive running style. As a Cowboys fan, get ready to hold your breath plenty when Darren Sproles is on the field.
Nemesis: Fletcher Cox, DE
There are writers that cover this league on a daily basis who would want you to believe Connor Barwin is the best defensive player on the Philadelphia Eagles. There is no question about Barwin's ability, but in my opinion, the player that holds that distinction is Fletcher Cox.
As productive as Barwin's numbers have been, I have seen him get taken out of games for long stretches -- which is something you cannot say for Cox. He is such a disruptive player, and the more you study him -- and this even goes back to his days at Mississippi State -- is that one of the first things you notice with his game is, when the ball is snapped is how quick he is off it.
He can be difficult to deal with when he is on the move. His power makes it hard for blockers to get in front of him to control. His football intelligence is also an outstanding trait, and this can make him a difficult player to fool with scheme. He plays with a keen awareness and sense of what blockers are trying to do to him. Whether he is facing a single block or double-team, it is rare that you see him out position or off balance.
As a pass rusher, he shows good hand use and power. His athletic ability helps him with his pass rush moves as well of how they use him in games. He shows the ability to finish. When this Cowboys offensive staff is putting together the game plan for Sunday, how they deal with Fletcher Cox will be the key to their overall success.
Under Radar: Mychal Kendricks, LB
If you asked me, other than Fletcher Cox, what Eagles defensive player could give this Cowboys offense the most problems on Sunday night, my answer would be Mychal Kendricks from his inside linebacker spot.
Along with Larry Foote of the Cardinals, Kendricks has been one of the most active linebackers that the Cowboys have faced all season. From the eyeball test, he is not the most physically appealing or gifted for the position, but he plays with unbelievable awareness and reactions. He has a feel for how to avoid blocks -- which puts him in position to make plays. He is especially tough when the ball goes wide and he has to run to make a play to the sideline.
Kendricks can be difficult to run away from because of how quickly he reads the play. You would think while watching him play that he might be guessing in his reads, but that's not the case at all. When he sees, he is gone. I like the way that he is able to finish plays, because he's such a a solid wrap-up tackler.
To give you an idea about his ability, he had the responsibility of spying Russell Wilson last week against the Seahawks, and he was right where he needed to be when that scheme was used. This will be another test for the inside three on this Cowboys offensive line. They have to get a hat on him at the second level, because if they don't, he will hold this running game to plenty of two to three yard gains.