The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles have met 102 times in NFL history, but this is their first meeting in 22 years in which both teams are below .500 (according to ESPN). So while the Eagles beat the Cowboys twice last year, both teams are desperate this time around.
That means we could be in for an unpredictable game Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. But I'm going to five you my prediction anyway, along with a final preview.
What Dallas must do to win, offensive edition: Avoid the same-old mistakes that have been killing them by escaping Philly's desperate pass rush. In other words, stay balanced.
What Dallas must do to win, defensive edition: Force them to run it by avoiding the blitz and keeping DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in check.
What Philly must do to win, offensive edition: Get Michael Vick as much help as possible and feature LeSean McCoy.
What Philly must do to win, defensive edition: Sell out to force Tony Romo into mistakes and limit the damage from Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten.
Five most important non-quarterbacks, Cowboys edition: Tyron Smith, Doug Free, DeMarcus Ware, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr
The pass rushes will be key for both sides, which is why both offensive tackles lead the way for both teams, as well as their top pass-rushers. And when you consider the receivers the Eagles have, both Claiborne and Carr make the list for Dallas.
Five most important non-quarterbacks, Eagles edition: King Dunlap, Demetress Bell, Brandon Graham, Trent Cole, Nnamdi Asomugha
Same deal for the Eagles and their tackles. And I'm including Graham and Cole from a pass-rushing perspective because of how hot Graham is and how good Cole can be both against the pass and the run. Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will also be crucial against those Dallas receivers, but I only had room here for Nnamdi.
Injury analysis, Cowboys edition
DeMarco Murray and Phil Costa remain out, which hurts the Cowboys a lot on the ground. And with Sean Lee out for good and Jay Ratliff hurting, they could struggle a lot against the run too. That, of course, is assuming that the Eagles actually run the ball with consistency.
Injury analysis, Eagles edition
With Todd Herremans and Danny Watkins both out, the offensive line is in major trouble. Vick will be on the run all day. At least the defense is pretty healthy.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction
Dallas makes more sense, and I don't feel good about either team at all, but I'm actually going with my gut and the Eagles, who I feel are a tad more desperate.
I do still think it's important that this team dominated the Cowboys last year, and I think they'll pull this one out. But I wouldn't bet on anything in a game like this.
Eagles 24, Cowboys 23
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