The Eagles are at a turning point. A win over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night at AT&T Stadium (8:20, NBC, WIP 94.1-FM) and they own a commanding two-game lead in the NFC East, a sweep of the series and the head-to-head tiebreaker.
A loss by the Eagles (10-2) and they are tied with the Cowboys (9-3) and possibly the San Francisco 49ers (9-3) and Detroit Lions (9-3), too.
A convincing victory Sunday would be definitive proof the Eagles were not the team that was pummeled, 42-19, by the Niners last week. The Cowboys are 6-0 at AT&T this season and have won 15 straight home games. They’ve beaten the Eagles in five straight games there.
A double-digit setback Sunday and the Eagles will be close to pressing the reset button on their season. Make no mistake, the demolition by the Niners took a lot out of the Eagles.
“Tough loss,” center Jason Kelce said. “Not a performance that we’re proud of, to say the least. What we were last week is done and over. All that matters is who we are this coming week. I think at the end of the day we have phenomenal players and phenomenal coaches in this building, and I trust each and every one of us to get this fixed. Everybody is here working and talking and trying to get everything ironed out. We get another opportunity this week.”
Except for the 37-34 win over the Buffalo Bills in overtime, the Eagles have cratered offensively. Subtract that outcome and they’ve averaged just 22.2 points in wins over the Cowboys and Chiefs, and the loss last week to the 49ers.
A.J. Brown’s numbers have plummeted in recent weeks, due in part to the absence of tight end Dallas Goedert, who rides to the rescue this weekend. Brown saw too many inexcusable mistakes reviewing film of the 49ers game.
“It’s us just not executing,” Brown said. “We’ve got all the talent in the world and we were just coming up short in certain areas that we know we’re better in. And I think that was the most disappointing thing.”
The Cowboys have averaged 42 points in their last four games, with Dak Prescott throwing 13 touchdown passes and one interception.
The Dallas offense has averaged 32.2 points in the red zone, tops in the league. The Eagles in their last three starts have allowed 24.0 points in the red zone, most in the league. The third down conversion rates in that time frame are insane, the Cowboys getting the job done at a 52 percent clip, the Eagles allowing a conversion rate of 58 percent.
A lot of that damage to the Eagles is through the air. They are allowing a shade under three TD passes a game. On third down they’ve allowed a rating of 115.5. No team has surrendered more passing scores to wide receivers than the Birds, who have given up 17 this season.
The Eagles must figure out a way to limit Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb, who has 90 receptions for 1,182 yards and seven scores, as well as tight end Jake Ferguson, who has 46 receptions, five of those touchdowns.
That the Eagles have won three of their last four games through the offensive struggles is a testament to clutch play by quarterback Jalen Hurts and clutch defensive play late in the games, with the exception of the Niners’ debacle. Almost lost in their recent struggles is the formula that got them to the Super Bowl. The Eagles dominated time of possession with their run game, and that allowed the defense to rush the passer.
“It’s difficult for a defense to defend consistently when you’re fatigued,” Kelce said. “I’m not making excuses at all. Weve got to be better on offense, defense, across the board. But I think that as an offense when you’re functioning and keeping things fresh it helps the defense. … Defense is a reactionary position. A lot of it is reacting to what the offense is giving you. And I think we can do a better job of keeping those guys fresh just by functioning better as an offense.
“The best way I can approach the next game is just worry about our offense. Worry about being able to run the ball more effectively, eat up clock if we need to. Functioning at a more consistent level is inherently going to make our defense better. That’s my approach.”
A win for the Eagles and they’ve all but clinched a second straight NFC East title, the first time any team has done so since the Eagles won four in a row, a run ending in 2004. That’s the longest drought ever without a repeat champ. A loss and the goal of a division title could change.
“You know, I don’t think that’s something for us to worry about,” Brown said. “Right now, we have a game that is a division game, and it means a lot. But other than the things that can happen if we win or lose, you can’t worry about that going into the game. You’ve just got to try to go 1-0 each and every week. It’s another opportunity to let out some frustration after last week. And afterwards you let the chips fall where they may be. You can’t go in worried or focused about that. You’ve got to go in knowing your assignments and ready to play.”
Said Kelce, “Good teams, good players, good coaches find a way to move on to next week. Make the corrections and go about your business.”
Source: Berkshire mont