Cowboys vs Eagles: Key matchups and X-factors in the battle of NFC East juggernauts

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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The last time the Dallas Cowboys faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas had their rivals on the ropes but self-inflected wounds allowed the Eagles to squeak out a victory.

This time around the Eagles head to AT&T Stadium after taking a thrashing from the San Fransisco 49ers hoping to break the Cowboys' 14-game winning streak at home. The Cowboys are out for revenge knowing they should have beaten the Eagles in their first meeting this season and will look to stake their claim as the best team in the NFC East.

In order for them to do that they are going to need to keep playing efficient football on both sides of the football in order to slow down an Eagles team looking to rebound from only their second loss of the season. These two teams know each other well and it's going to come down to how well the Cowboys exploit matchups against the Eagles in order to win this game. They are also going to need some help from some x-factor players on both sides of the football in order to leave with the division lead. So, let's take a look at what matchups Dallas will look to exploit and the players they are going to need a big game from in order to keep their home winning streak alive.

3 key Cowboys offensive matchups vs Eagles

Terence Steele vs Haason Reddick

Dak Prescott has been on a hot streak this past month and a lot of that is thanks to his offensive line gelling at the right time. This week Terence Steele is going to need to bring his A-game in order to help Prescott against the Eagles defense. The last time these two teams played Steele was credited with allowing four sacks, and 12 pressures with an overall pass-blocking grade of 15.0 according to ProFootballFocus. If the Cowboys want to have any chance at winning this game Steele is going to need to step up in a big way against the Eagles' best pass-rusher in Haason Reddick who we know the Eagles are going to match him up against regularly in this game.

We know what Steele is capable of doing but this season, coming back from his knee injury has dropped his play considerably and the Eagles are going to look to take advantage of it. This matchup alone could determine how this entire game for the Cowboys will turn out. They need Steele to come through in a big way in order for their offense to stay on the field and give themselves a chance at winning this game.

Jake Ferguson vs Kevin Byard

Jake Ferguson had his national coming out party against Seattle last week and will need to continue that production against the Eagles Kevin Byard this week. Ferguson will be matched up against a better cover safety in Kevin Byard this week compared to Jamal Adams last week, but his speed downfield can give Byard problems if the Cowboys can take advantage. Right now, teams have completed 21-24 passes against Byard with an average of 11.6 yards per reception and scoring two touchdowns.

Ferguson and the Cowboys have a very advantageous matchup they can exploit to attack this Eagles' defense. They've seen Byard has problems covering the quicker tight ends and must attack that to make things easier for Prescott and keep this Eagles offense off the field.

Mike McCarthy & Brian Schottenheimer vs Sean Desai

We still don't know what was said after the Cowboys loss to the 49ers in week 5 but whatever it was head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer took note. The insertion of more movement pre-snap in the offense along with more bunch formations has allowed Prescott to decipher defenses quickly in order to find the best reads. That looks like the formula going forward and after watching how the 49ers used it to their advantage, they should be licking their chops. But this goes both ways, the Eagles' defensive coordinator Sean Desai has seen how his defense is being exploited and is going to find ways to cover up those deficiencies.

Desai has done a good job with the players at his disposal to cover up those deficiencies by disguising his coverages to buy his pass rush enough time to get to the quarterback. That means that McCarthy and Schottenheimer are going to need to come up with a plan to get Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle the football whether it be by designed screen passes or outside runs to slow down that pass rush and bring those safeties closer to the line of scrimmage. Do that and they have a chance to keep the Cowboys offense in third and short situations and replicate how the 49ers successfully attacked this Eagles defense.