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Playoff Preview – Eagles vs Cowboys

Posted by mvetack on January 7, 2010

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys – Saturday at 8:00

Quarterback

Donavon McNabb has somehow survived as the starting quarterback in Philly since the year 2000. It seems like every year the fans want him out and to bring in someone else. At one time they thought it was a better idea to start someone by the name of Detmer instead of him. But McNabb has survived because he is a great quarterback. The Eagles never have a dominate WR (Terrell Owens for one year was the best he ever had unless you want to count Freddie Mitchell and his Mohawk) and throw the ball more than anyone else. Jay Cutler is in a very similar situation this season. McNabb has been in this situation his whole career. Little to play with out of the WR position and a playbook that apparently had the run plays ripped out long ago. Cutler threw nearly 30 INTs and has people calling him a bust because of this. McNabb is great because he puts up big numbers and still plays the game safe when he has little help. He can save plays with his arm, legs, and his brain.
Tony Romo has alot of talent and is very fun to watch play (maybe not all the time for Cowboys fans but for the rest of us his improv and sometimes foolish decisions are entertaining). Romo’s play seems to coincide with how Dallas is playing. The question is, does he have his good games when the whole team is playing well or does the way he play influence the rest of the team. I think it is a little of both. Rarely is Romo seen taking over a game or do we see him as the only bright spot in a bad game. He has all the skills in the world but has to get over the stigma that he is not clutch to be considered a great quarterback today (The Romo not being clutch argument has always felt a little unfair to me). He is off to a good start this season with a couple of big December wins.

The Eagles and McNabb get the edge as McNabb has played in all situations and done well. Whether fans are on his side or not or if it is the playoffs or preseason he has proven he can get it done.


Running Backs

Marion Barber and Felix Jones are great compliments for each other. Barber is the smash mouth back who gets the tough yards and Jones is the big play threat with speed. Barber has had a little bit of a down year but should be fresh missing some time with injuries.
LeSean McCoy of the Eagles is only a rookie and is filling in nicely for the often injured Brian Westbrook. McCoy gives the Eagles a certain future at running back with a similar guy to Westbrook. He is great in both the running and passing game and has big play ability.

If Brian Westbrook was completely healthy the Eagles would have the edge in the running back battle. Westbrook is hurt though, so the hit and take names later style of barber and the finesse and speed of Jones give the Cowboys the running back edge.


Wide Recievers

Miles Austin and Jason Witten, yes Jason Witten, are two great pass catchers. Roy Williams does get beat out in this situation as one of the top two threats to catch a ball. Roy was good on the Lions because no one cared if he dropped a ball in the fourth quarter when your winless and down by 20. In Dallas, you kinda get noticed. Austin has emerged as one of the better wide receivers in the game, please don’t turn into Braylon Edwards, and it is fun to see a successful wide reciever not demand the ball or money (it is only his first successful season so he still has time to Keyshawn Johnson himself). Witten is one of the most reliable and skilled tight ends in the league and gives defense all kinds of fits in deciding who is going to cover him.

Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are two young studs at the wide reciever position and for years to come should make quite the duo. For now Desean is legit and Maclin, to me, is still proving himself. Desean is the greatest big play wide receiver right now and should be the biggest play maker on the field this Saturday. Maclin has shown similar ability in his rookie season and has quietly had some big games.

Jackson and Maclin win this battle. Even though Maclin is still in the process of proving himself, Roy Williams just hurts the Cowboys too much for them to have the better pass catchers.


Offensive Line

The Cowboys offensive line is in the middle of the road at protecting Romo and at the top at number 3 in yards per rushing attempt. Romo tends to try and make things happen so some of those sacks are on him and not on the O-Line. The running game is definitely on them. The cowboys average 4.8 yards per attempt (best among playoff teams) and can win games simply by running the ball.
The Eagles offensive line rank 14th and 12th in running the ball and protecting the quarterback. They are your average offensive line. Averaging a respectable 4.3 yards per attempt gets the job done and has no one complaining.

The Cowboys win this one pretty easily with the dominance of their run blocking.


Defense

The Cowboys defense ranks second to only the Jets in points against at only 15.6 per game. They are also in the top ten in yards per game against. The Cowboys, who got off to an awful start sacking the quarterback, finished 7th in the league with 42 sacks on the season. They have alot of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball and when they are playing together properly, like they have the last two games which have both been shutouts, they are nearly impossible to score on.
The Eagles defense is third in sacks and fourth in interceptions. They have the ability to make big plays in this regard and these plays can win or lose you a ball game. In points per game allowed they rank in the lower half giving up just over 19 a game, not too bad, and rank 12th in yards per game against. The Eagles have a great corner in Asante Samuel and rely on big plays on defense.

The overall play from everyone on the Cowboy’s defense and not needing the big play give them the edge in a single game analysis of defenses.

Posted in Asante Samuel, Cowboys, Desean Jackson, Donavon McNabb, Eagles, Felix Jones, Jason Witten, Jeremy Maclin, Lesean McCoy, Marion Barber, Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Tony Romo | Leave a Comment »