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X Factors

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X Factors: Watch out for these guys Sunday night


FRISCO, Texas – With the NFC East lead on the line, emotions will be high come Sunday night for the Eagles and Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Since the Super Bowl is always the goal for every team, we decided to rank the Top 10 X-factors for the Cowboys and Eagles, using roman numerals, since 10 = X.

Here we go, these 10 guys will likely be big difference-makers one way or another.

X – Haasan Reddick – He doesn't get the publicity of Parsons, but Reddick is certainly the difference-maker for Philadelphia on their side of the ball. He has 9.5 sacks, which is tied for 11th in the league, and just two back from Parsons. Reddick is closing in on his fourth straight double-digit sack season, which began in 2020 with the Cardinals and then 2021 with Carolina before joining the Eagles last season.

IX – Jalen Hurts–Right now, Hurts and Dak Prescott seem to be two of the top favorites for the NFL MVP. Maybe this game on Sunday will catapult one of them into the lead. Hurts has been the Eagles' leader this year, both as the passer but also their goal-line threat, scoring 12 touchdowns, mostly from the help of the Tush-Push.  Hurts has thrown 19 touchdowns but is one of eight quarterbacks this year with 10 or more interceptions.

VIII – A.J. Brown – While the Eagles have two dynamic receivers that could easily be a No. 1 on most teams, it starts with Brown, who looks more like a defensive end running routes. Brown has 1,164 receiving yards, which is fourth-most in the NFL.

VII – Lane Johnson – The Eagles don't have many weak spots at all, especially on their offensive line where even the right tackle is a potential Hall of Famer one day. One of the big debates in all Eagles games is how quick Johnson gets off the snap – some might argue that he's a little early and could be flagged for a false start nearly every play. But it's rarely called on Johnson, who will be one of the primary blockers on Micah Parsons coming off the edge.

VI - Osa Odighizuwa – The running game from Philadelphia can be as dangerous as any team in the league when D'Andre Swift gets going and Jalen Hurts finds a rhythm in the RPO game out of the backfield. As a result, staying disciplined in the interior of the defensive line will be as important as ever on Sunday night to limit the Eagles' rushing attack.

V - CeeDee Lamb – The last time these two teams lined up, CeeDee Lamb turned in a career-high 191 receiving yards and came just a few yards short of winning the game for the Cowboys as time expired. The Eagles secondary is simply not good in 2023, and an opportunity exists for Lamb to take advantage of his matchups once again on Sunday night. If his production can come even close to matching what it was in week nine, then the Cowboys can close in on a big divisional win.

IV - Jake Ferguson – Confidence has been built with Jake Ferguson and Dak Prescott with every game snap that the two play with each other, and you're starting to see the fruits of the offseason work they put in to build that chemistry in recent weeks. Ferguson hauled in seven receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown in the week nine loss to Philadelphia as the Eagles couldn't find the correct matchup to throw at his physical and athletic presence, and I see them having a similar issue this time around.

III - Dak Prescott - It took a Herculean effort by Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Jake Ferguson and the offense to lift the Cowboys to a 9-3 record and a 14th consecutive win at home when they faced off against the Seahawks, due to the defense having a bad day at the office — until they didn't. The rematch against the Eagles may not require another scorcher like last week, if we're using the battle in Week 9 as any indication. Still, it's always better to order a 40 burger than to not, and especially if it's to send the message to the Eagles about who's the better team (and with so much on the line this week).

II - Micah Parsons - I don't expect the Cowboys' defense to offer up two bad games in a row, and at home, and that could and should make for a long day for Jalen Hurts and his company of offensive weapons. That said, it will all begin (and end?) with the ability of Parsons and the defensive front to not only get pressure on Hurts, but to keep contain and then either get him on the ground and/or to force him into hurried decisions that could lead to mistakes — i.e., fumbles and interceptions. 

I - DaRon Bland - Speaking of having a long day at the office, Bland's was the longest of anyone when the Seahawks were in town. He remained resilient though, and it paid off with a critical interception in the second half — marking his eight of this historic season for the second-year cornerback. He did mostly well against the Eagles in the first round, save for a perfect deep throw by Hurts to DeVonta Smith, and the onus will again be on Bland to help Stephon Gilmore bottle up Smith and A.J. Brown.

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