LeSean McCoy gives the Philadelphia Eagles their best chance against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) talks with Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) after the 2014 Thanksgiving Day game at AT&T Stadium. Philadelphia beat Dallas 33-10. (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — Just two short weeks ago, the Philadelphia Eagles ran away with a rather easy 33-10 victory over NFC East foe Dallas. Now facing the Cowboys again Sunday night, can the Eagles do it again?
The answer to that lies around an offense led by backup quarterback Mark Sanchez and a defense that will have to contend with the NFL’s leading rusher, Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray. Murray has rushed for 1,606 yards so far this season and is coming off his best game of the year. The former Oklahoma product ran for 179 yards in last week’s win over Chicago.
If the Eagles defense can limit Murray to the 3.7 yards per carry that they did in the first meeting, beating Dallas a second time is surely possible. Murray had 73 yards on 20 carries the first time around. The Eagles’ defense held Dallas to just 267 total yards in that game, well below their average of nearly 380 per game. Should the Eagles be able to do that again, only good things can happen.
When starting QB Nick Foles went down with an injury, many were skeptical about Sanchez, the former Jets QB. All the former USC quarterback has done is complete 62 percent of his passes for 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns. Sanchez went 20-of-29 for 217 yards and a touchdown in the first win over Dallas.
The Eagles ran into the league’s best defense last week, and Sanchez recorded his worst passer rating of the season as Philadelphia dropped a 24-14 decision to Seattle. The high-powered Eagles offense managed a paltry 139 total yards, just 57 on the ground. Sanchez completed 10-of-20 passes for just 96 yards. He did throw two touchdowns, but was intercepted once and sacked three times.
The Philadelphia running game is going to have to regroup and continue to take pressure off Sanchez if the Eagles are to defeat Dallas again. LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher (1,068 yards), needs to have another game like the last one against the Cowboys – 25 carries, 159 yards, one touchdown. If that happens, Philadelphia will enjoy success.
Philadelphia dropped its first game of the season at Lincoln Financial Field with the loss to Seattle last week. They are very good at home, especially against NFC East opponents. This season, the Eagles are 3-0 in the division.
Dallas, which clinched its first nine-win season since 2009, has actually struggled at home. All four Dallas losses have come at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys are 6-0 on the road this season and have won two straight in Philadelphia, something for Eagles fans to think about.
Sunday night’s winner will have the inside track on the NFC East division title. Dallas still has a tough one with Indianapolis left while the Eagles will face the New York Giants and Washington to close the season.