By Shawn Lealos
If the Dallas Cowboys only faced their NFC East rivals, they would be the best team in the NFL. In their five NFC East games this season, Dallas has swept the New York Giants and Washington Redskins and beat the Philadelphia Eagles the last time they played. Now, with the final game of the season a battle for the NFC East crown and a playoff spot, Dallas has a chance to complete a clean sweep of their division, but it won’t be easy.
Here is a look at the Philadelphia Eagles heading into this big game.
The last time the Cowboys and Eagles played, both teams were 3-3 and they were playing for first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys beat up the Eagles in that game, 17-3, and Nick Foles had his worst game of the season. In that game, Foles was playing in place of injured quarterback Michael Vick. This time around, Foles is the unquestioned starter of the Philadelphia Eagles and is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
Foles has thrown for 2,628 yards with 25 touchdowns and two interceptions, a fantastic 118.8 quarterback rating. However, when Foles played against the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the season, he only threw for 80 yards with a season low 46.2 quarterback rating. He rebounded from that with two almost perfect games and has barely slowed this season.
When they met last, Dallas was still a solid defense against the run, holding runners like Jamaal Charles in check, and when LeSean McCoy showed up last time around, he was the number one running back in the NFL. Dallas responded by holding him to 55 total rushing yards in an impressive stand. It was the best Dallas defensive performance of the season, and the Cowboys hope to have some of their play makers back this weekend.
They will need to because McCoy is on his way to the NFL rushing title, with 189 more rushing yards than his nearest competitor. Despite his impressive stats, he has only broke 100 yards rushing in a game six times this season, including a nice 133 rushing yards with two touchdowns last week against the Chicago Bears.
Dallas will hope that Philadelphia slows down from their performance against Chicago, where the Eagles ran for four touchdowns and Nick Foles threw two. Their defense also chipped in with one interception for a touchdown, a fumble recovery, five sacks and a safety.
Mychal Kendricks had two sacks in the game while Trent Cole had three. Brandon Boykin had the interception return for a touchdown. This could be a huge week for this Eagles defense, who rank 12th against the run and 30th against the pass. Tony Romo might miss the game, so their deficiency against the pass might not come into play in this game. They held down Romo to one passing touchdown last time they played, and while DeMarco Murray was injured last time around, they limited the Cowboys to 74 rushing yards.
This game is for a playoff spot, and things seem to be heading in the Eagles direction this time around.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.