Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys: Five Keys to Victory

Derek MajorCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2010

The Eagles try to take a stranglehold on the NFC East, while the Dallas Cowboys try to ruin the Eagles playoff hopes. 




1) Make Big Plays on Offense 

The Eagles love to get the ball downfield in a hurry, but in recent games against the Cowboys, they haven't been able to do that. However, that was with Donovan McNabb as the quarterback. With Michael Vick at the helm the Eagles don't need to throw the ball downfield to get 20 or more yards on a play. 


2) Make DeSean Jackson Part of the Game 

Jackson had just four receptions for 65 yards and no TDs against the Cowboys last season. Even worse, Vick hasn't been looking Jackson's way much recently (10 catches, 160 yards and zero TDs in the last three games). On Sunday they'll have to find some kind of connection, because if they don't the Eagles will be forced to nickel and dime their way down the field. 


3) Pressure Jon Kitna 

One of the reasons the Cowboys offense is playing so well is the offensive line is keeping Kitna on his feet, something that rarely happened when he was in Detroit. The Eagles love bringing the blitz, but they have to get to Kitna, he's been running this season and isn't afraid to be tackled to get a first down.


4) Don't Underestimate the Cowboys Receivers 

Just because Dez Bryant is out for the season doesn't mean the Eagles can relax. Miles Austin torched them last year and has been playing solid of late, and besides his fumble against the Saints Roy Williams has been doing enough to keep the press and critics off him. 


5) Andy Reid Must Make Good Decisions 

Reid has been good with his challenges this season, but I get the feeling he's going to challenge something this weekend that won't make a lot of sense. Either way they'll be at least one questionable call in this game and it could make or break the Eagles if Reid makes the wrong choice. 




1) Control the Clock 

It's better than saying "run the ball." The Cowboys were great at sustaining long drives against the Saints and Colts and they need to do the same to neutralize the Eagles fast-action offense. Tashard Choice has another chance to show why Marion Barber should be cut and why he should be Felix Jones' partner in crime. 


2) Kevin Ogletree or Sam Hurd Has to Step Up 

One of these guys needs to be a part of this game. With Bryant out, the Eagles will double Austin and it doesn't take much to handle Roy Williams, so one of these two guys has to make an impact. 


3) Contain Michael Vick 

He's gonna get yards on the ground, that's a fact, but what the Cowboys can do is limit how many yards he gets. It's a fact that when Vick is forced to the right, he usually pulls the ball down and runs, so if they can force him to that side they can limit his big play ability with his feet. If the Cowboys sell out on a blitz, they can't leave gaps in the line because he will run. 


4) Go After the Eagles Corners 

 Asante Samuel hasn't practiced all week and the Eagles corners love to jump routes like he does, except they don't have the experience or talent to get away with it. If the Cowboys run some double moves with Austin and Ogletree (provided he gets on the field at all) eventually there will be a shot for Kitna downfield. 


5) Don't Turn the Ball Over on Special Teams 

Without Bryant, the Cowboys will have to rely on others to carry the load and Bryan McCann and Jesse Holley completely whiffed last weekend against the Colts. With a division battle they can't do that again. They don't need a huge return or a TD, they just need to not make a mistake and turn over the ball.