June 16, 2024

PHILADELPHIA — Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox) has all the juice you could ask for in a Week 9 matchup.

It’s a rivalry game full of star power featuring two of the best teams in the NFC. A home win by the Eagles (7-1) would put them in a commanding position in the NFC East heading into the second half of the season, while a win by the Cowboys (5-2) would tighten things up considerably.

Dallas and Philadelphia split the season series last year. Injuries played a major factor, with Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott sidelined for the first game — an Eagles win — and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts out for the rematch.

Hurts and Prescott will have the chance to square off this time, and each is coming off a four-touchdown performance.

Cowboys reporter Todd Archer and Eagles reporter Tim McManus answer the most pressing questions heading into one of the biggest games of the season.

Is Dallas equipped to slow down WR A.J. Brown?

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Why A.J. Brown remains locked in as an elite fantasy WR

Tristan H. Cockcroft lays out the numbers for why Eagles WR A.J. Brown is among the best receivers in fantasy football.

Brown, who has an NFL-record six straight games with at least 125 yards receiving, had a combined 11 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys last season.

When the Cowboys lost Trevon Diggs in a Week 3 practice due to a torn ACL in his left knee, there were major concerns about the cornerback spot.

DaRon Bland has more than answered any questions.

He has three interception returns for touchdown this season, a Cowboys record. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he has allowed a league-low minus-39.4 target EPA as the nearest defender in coverage. Among corners with at least 30 targets, he and Stephon Gilmore are among the top five in completion percentage allowed (47.1% and 47.2%).

“He can anchor at the breaking point. You see his toughness as far as his crafty plays and things like that,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of Bland. “Obviously, we talk all of the time about his ball skills and ability to make plays on the ball. I think he’s definitely built for this.”

But keeping Brown in check will come down to Micah Parsons and the pass rush affecting Hurts.

What answers do the Eagles have for Parsons?

They have done a good job of slowing the pass-rusher down to this point: He has a half-sack in three career games against Philadelphia.

One reason for the success ties into Hurts being a running threat. The Eagles will often “read” Parsons in the zone-read game, forcing him to slow down his rush in the event Hurts keeps the ball and takes off to the outside.

It could look different this time around. Hurts is dealing with pain in his left knee and hasn’t been as much of a factor in the ground game lately, totaling 27 yards the past two games after rushing for at least 28 yards in each of the first six.

It will fall to the coaching staff to find creative ways to limit Parsons’ production.

“That’s what you do with any good player in this league, you’ve got to think a lot about them,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “You’ve got to think about them more than their loved ones think about them.

“When we played [Rams DT] Aaron Donald, a lot of our day was devoted towards Aaron Donald. Obviously, Micah Parsons deserves that same respect.”

Is Philly equipped to slow down WR CeeDee Lamb?

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Will CeeDee Lamb continue to put up big fantasy numbers?

Field Yates explains why the Cowboys’ schedule makes it possible for CeeDee Lamb to continue to put up big numbers.

This is a tough matchup. Lamb is red hot, having racked up 19 receptions, 275 yards and two scores over the previous two games, and he totaled 15 catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles last season.

The Eagles’ secondary has been in a state of flux for weeks now, with injuries leading to a rotating cast at safety and slot corner in particular. It would make sense for Dallas to frequently line Lamb up in the slot to take advantage of that vulnerability.

“He’s big. He’s physical. He’s fast,” Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai said of Lamb. “He’s got a big catch radius. He can win underneath. He can win after the catch on short throws in the quick game, and he can make you miss in space and go up and catch a contested ball. He’s a really good all-around receiver.”

Philadelphia is hoping the recent acquisition of veteran safety Kevin Byard from the Tennessee Titans will settle things down on the back end. For now, it will fall in large part to the defensive front to make Prescott uncomfortable and limit his time to throw.

Can the Cowboys’ D put a stop to Philly’s ‘tush push’?

The short-yardage tush push, where teammates help push Hurts forward for a first down or score, has been the most unstoppable play in the NFL this season.

The Cowboys’ defense is built on speed, not size. Their base defense essentially has three safeties on the field. They replaced 255-pound linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, out with a neck injury, with 218-pound converted safety Markquese Bell.

Because the Eagles generally do not substitute before running the play, the Cowboys won’t be able to match up better by bringing in a larger defensive tackle. The key will be staying out of those situations. In the only meeting Hurts had against Dallas last season, he converted two third-and-1 opportunities. He would have had a third, but Dallas had a penalty that converted the first down.

“It takes special time and coaching,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “They’re the best at it, right? When someone is the best at something, it’ll take some new thinking and some new ways to go about it to stop it. It’ll be a tough challenge, but it’s one we’ll definitely be up for.”

Dak vs. Jalen: What’s one stat to know for each QB?

Prescott stat: 0

Prescott has not had a pass intercepted at Lincoln Financial Field in five starts. That covers a span of 145 throws and includes seven touchdown passes. But Prescott has been intercepted more by the Eagles than any other team in his career (eight times).

Hurts stat: 8

That’s the number of interceptions Hurts has thrown through eight games after throwing six all of last season. Overall, he has been very effective as a passer — he’s on track for career highs in yards, touchdowns and completion rate — but he needs to cut down on the turnovers, especially against a Dallas defense that ranks third in interceptions with nine.


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