Eagles (0-1) vs Cowboys (1-0) Preview – Week 2

The Eagles struggled out of the gate in their 2015 opener falling to the Atlanta Falcons.  A game most fans assumed was a win and an easy one at that.  As far as I’m concerned that game didn’t happen.  It’s on to Dallas.  The Eagles need to forget about that game move on.  The new season starts Sunday.

Eagles vs Dallas 4:25 FOX

For the Eagles this game is as close as you can get to a must win this early in the season.  In fact it most likely is a must win just because it’s Dallas.  A loss for the Eagles makes them 0-2 on the season and 0-1 in the division.  A win for the cowboys gives them 2 games up on the Eagles and will make them undefeated in the division after their win last week vs the Giants.  The Cowboys were the only team in the NFL to open with 2 straight divisional games.

The Eagles are going into this game extremely healthy.  Below is an excerpt from philadelphiaeagles.com regarding the injury reports for both teams – The Eagles’ injury report was light again on Thursday afternoon as there were no changes from Wednesday’s inital list. For the second day in a row, wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu was the only player who did not participate in practice. Ajirotutu suffered a concussion Monday night against Atlanta and is going through the league protocol.  Linebacker Marcus Smith (hamstring) was a full participant in practice once again and was the only other Eagle on the injury report.  “We’ll see how the week goes along,” head coach Chip Kelly said regarding Smith. “Obviously, we’ve had one day of training. He did participate in everything we did yesterday. So, we’ll see what goes on today, tomorrow and Saturday – philadelphiaeagles.com.’

The Dallas Cowboys updated their injury report on Thursday, making only one change. Quarterback Tony Romo (back) was a full participant in practice after sitting out on Wednesday for his scheduled maintenance day. Wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot), defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) and guard Ronald Leary (groin) did not practice for the second day.  The injury to watch for Dallas is that of Leary, the team’s starting left guard. If he is unable to play, the Cowboys will be left without two starters on offense as Bryant will miss 8-12 weeks while recovering from surgery on his broken foot. In place of Leary, offensive lineman La’el Collins has been taking first-team reps in practice – philadelphiaeagles.com.

At first glance with Dez Bryant out and some concerns across the OL for the Cowboys you would think this would be a lock Eagles win.  Mike Missaneli brought this up on his afternoon show and it was a pretty good point – when teams are missing a guy who is very important their scheme and overall game plan there tends to be more focus and they can even play a harder to make up for their lost teammate.  Regardless, Dallas’ best player will not be on the field when it counts which is a good thing for an Eagles secondary that lets be honest got torched last week.  Ronald Leary could be out as well with a groin injury.  This is definitely a positive thing for the Eagles DL who most thought struggled last week.  I personally didn’t think they played too bad.  The Eagles might get a look at La’el Collins.

Say what you want about Tony Romo but he’s a good QB.  If the Eagles can’t get pressure on Romo he will sit in the pocket and pick this team a part.  In my opinion pressure or lack their off will make or break the game for the Eagles.  With out Dez look for Romo to target old reliable Jason Witten.  If you have Witten in fantasy I would suggest starting him.  He might catch 15 balls.  A fun match – up to watch all game will be the Eagles LBs on Witten, mainly El Bravo Alonso.

Hopefully the Eagles can carry over their second half momentum vs Atlanta into this game.  Bradford got hot including at stretch of 20/22.  The Eagles were able to move the ball up and down the field.  Where the Eagles need to improve is in the running game.  First they need to be committed to the run.  I thought Chip abandoned the run way to early.  Now in his defense the OL did struggle as both G spots with Gardner and Barbre were blown up on more than one occasion.  Still no reason to totally give up on running the football.  It’s important to keep the defense honest.

Personally I think this is the most important game thus far in Chip Kelly’s tenure as coach.  The outcome of this game is going to sway fans one way or the other on Kelly.  Chip was out coached last game.  I mentioned that in the recap blog and I think it’s worth mentioning again.  All the changes he made in the off – season were for this game.  The Eagles need to be a sound and disciplined football team Sunday.  Last week they committed 10 penalties including a slew of offensive holding calls.  I expect them to be much better this week.

Prediction – The Eagles cannot go down 0-2 on the season and 0-1 in the division.  I believe the Eagles will be ready to play with a commitment to the running game.  I expect Murray to have 20-25 carries and a good chance of 40 team runs or so.  Look for Mathews and Sproles to get some work as well – more than last week.  Jordan Matthews and Agholor will have nice games due to some depth concerns at defensive back for Dallas.  I think the Eagles will be up 2 scores late and Dallas will score to make it a one score game. Eagles 30 – Cowboys 24

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