The Philadelphia Eagles are 10-2 and in first place in the NFC, but their team is far from perfect. Their weaknesses were on display last week when they lost 42-19 to another powerhouse in their conference, the San Francisco 49ers. This week will be another challenge as the Eagles face the 9-3 Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys are undefeated at home this season and have outscored their opponents in those games by 151 points.
This "Sunday Night Football" showdown will likely have playoff implications and could be the difference between who wins the NFC East. The Eagles need a win in order to maintain the best record in the division.
The last time these two teams met, the Eagles came out on top 28-23 though had a hard time stopping the Cowboys offense. In that matchup, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott went 29 of 44 for 374 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver CeeDee Lamb had 11 receptions for 191 yards, a career high.
The Eagles defense knows it must do better containing Lamb. Cornerback Bradley Roby said the Cowboys excelled in the first meeting at keeping plays alive and creating "the second play."
"They were extending the plays, and they were just freestyling and running everywhere," Roby said. "So that's just really what it was, in my opinion, that Dak would extend the play and they would run another route and we would just not win on those routes," he said via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Safety Kevin Byard also reflected on their last game against the Cowboys. "Guys were kind of able to uncover and make some plays on the back end. And I think that's where a lot of our explosive plays came from in that game."
Byard gave some insight into their game plan for Sunday, saying they have to be conscientious of Prescott getting out of the pocket and extending plays. "… We have to be really good, just make sure we're plastering receivers down the field. We may have to cover two or three routes within one play," he said.
Byard said the Eagles defense needs to find a balance between an "aggressive mindset" while also remembering they "have to be careful" because of the Cowboys ability to have success on their second play.
"Simple things, just like being [as] deep as the deepest," Byard said. "… when he [Dak] does extend those plays, you don't want somebody to get behind you. So just being conscious of that, and also just making sure we're helping out elsewhere on the field. When guys uncover, being able to be the eraser when things like that happen."
The Cowboys strength in their offense, finding open receivers and capitalizing on those plays for big yardage, is a mismatch against an Eagles secondary that has struggled this season.
Prescott currently leads the league in completion percentage (72.8) and passer rating (117.2) on third down. Lamb has 1,182 receiving yards, second in the NFL and leads the league in yards (615) and touchdowns (five) from the slot, per Next Gen Stats.
The Cowboys have the most passing touchdowns (26) and the fourth-best first-down percentage (38.5).
The Eagles defense is 31st in passing yards allowed on third down (951) and 32nd in passing touchdowns allowed on third down (13). Philadelphia has allowed the third most passing yards (3,341) and the second-most passing touchdowns (27).
This is the second and final time these teams will face off in the regular season, but there is a strong chance they could meet again in the playoffs.