By Steve Kelley
Only one night to go before tomorrow night’s Eagles-Cowboys showdown, and here are the vital stats:
EAGLES (8-1) AT DALLAS COWBOYS (5-4)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, AT&T Stadium. TV: NBC, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: 117th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 65-51. Dallas has won six of the last 10. Dallas has faced no team in the NFL more than the Eagles. Dallas won 29-23 in overtime last year at home.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles can wrap up the NFC East with a win over the Cowboys, which would put Philly four games up with six to play.
The Cowboys will be without RB Ezekiel Elliott and probably won’t have Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith either. The Eagles hope that will help them do what the Atlanta Falcons did to the Cowboys last week: Stop the run early, put them in obvious pass situations and let Brandon Graham (five sacks) and their front four tee off on Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys must establish Alfred Morris to make it easier on third downs for Prescott, control the ball and keep the Eagles’ offense off the field.
The Cowboys have no chance in a shootout with Carson Wentz and Co., who are the No. 2 scoring unit in the NFL at 31.4 points per game.
Dallas also must stop Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount and get heat on Wentz. The Eagles could have trouble against Demarcus Lawrence, who leads the league with 11.5 sacks.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Eagles RT Lane Johnson vs. Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence leads the NFL with 11.5 sacks. Johnson is coming off a dominating performance against the Broncos’ Von Miller. This battle is worth the price of admission.
Cowboys WR Cole Beasley vs. Eagles CB Patrick Robinson. Beasley’s numbers are down; but, with the Cowboys having trouble with pass protection, they will need to get the ball off quickly, and that should mean a lot of work for Beasley. This is a matchup the Cowboys need to exploit if the offense hopes to have success. Eagles DC Jim Schwartz moved Robinson inside late in the preseason specifically to do with receivers such as Beasley.
FAST FACTS: Eagles QB Carson Wentz leads the NFL with 23 TD passes and ranks fourth with a 104.1 passer rating. In his past five games, he has thrown 17 TD passes and three interceptions, netting a 117.9 rating. He threw two TD passes in the last meeting. … Rookie RB Corey Clement set career-highs with 66 scrimmage yards and three TDs in Week 9.
… WR Alshon Jeffery has three TDs in his past two games. He also has a TD catch in two of his past three vs. Dallas. … TE Zach Ertz leads NFC tight ends in receptions (43), yards (528) and TDs (6). He caught 13 passes for 139 yards and two TDs in the last meeting. … DE Brandon Graham has 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his past five games in Dallas. He has three sacks in his past four road games. … Dallas QB Dak Prescott has 13 passing TDs and two interceptions in his past seven games. Since 1970, he is one of four players to account for 50 TDs in his first 25 career games. … WR Dez Bryant has 798 receiving yards (88.7 per game) and nine TDs in the past nine meetings. Since 2012, he leads the NFL with 56 TD catches. … DE Demarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with a career-high 11.5 sacks. He has a sack in eight of nine games in 2017. … DL David Irving has six sacks in his past five games and in four straight home games.
PREDICTION: The Cowboys have not fared well against high-scoring offenses, losing home shootouts to the Rams and Packers. And the Eagles probably smell blood.
OUR PICK: Eagles, 27-17.