Cowboys vs Eagles: Key matchups and X-factors to watch

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys / Sam Hodde/GettyImages
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3 Cowboys Key Defensive Matchups

Markquese Bell and Damone Clark vs. Eagles RBs

As much as the Eagles rely on quarterback Jalen Hurts to push the football down the field, they are using their running game to keep defenses off-balanced with D'Andre Swift and Kenneth Gainwell. If the Cowboys want to have any chance of winning this game they need to get this Eagles offense in third and long situations allowing their pass rush to attack Hurts. In order for that to happen they need big games from both Bell and Clark in the running game in order for that to happen. Bell has been great against the run this season playing in his hybrid safety/linebacker role shooting gaps and making plays on ball carriers. Clark on the other hand has been hit or miss this season getting caught in piles or hitting the wrong gaps. He will need to be on his game if they want to stop an Eagles running game ranked third in attempts, seventh in yards, and averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

DaRon Bland and Stephon Gilmore vs. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith

A glaring key matchup on the defensive side of the football is the matchup on the outside between Bland and Gilmore versus Brown and Smith. Brown is on a tear over the past few weeks and no one has been able to slow him down right now while Smith has been able to come up with big plays downfield at times during the season. Bland and Gilmore are going to have their hands full in this game trying to slow down these two receivers. The main concern may be with Gilmore whose speed has been a liability at times this season and something the Eagles could look to exploit early. Bland and Gilmore are going to need some help from their defensive line and the safety position to keep these two in check if they want to have a chance in this matchup. Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn needs to come up with a creative game plan to counter these two talented receivers.

Osa Odighizuwa vs. Landon Dickerson and Sua Opeta (Pressures)

If the Eagles have a weakness on this offensive line, it's at the guard positions with Dickerson and Opeta who have surrendered a combined 3 sacks, 39 pressures, and committed 8 penalties so far this season. Those stats are music to Odighizuwa's ears; he's been a terror this season for offensive linemen amassing 3 sacks, 14 hurries, and 21 pressures on the season. Odighizuwa should be able to put pressure on these two guards collapse the pocket on Hurts and force bad passes. That pressure will also move Hurts out of the pocket and give the Cowboys defensive ends a chance to get home. If defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is creative enough he could deploy the same attack used against the LA Rams with Micah Parsons lined up over the center but this time line him up against either guard allowing him to use his strength and quickness to create immediate pressure on Hurts up the middle as well.