Eagles and Cowboys at critical crossroads

Ed Benkin
November 09, 2018 - 9:03 pm
Philadelphia Eagles / Zach Ertz

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- The Dallas Cowboys will come to town with a record of 3-5 and like in need of a win to save their season.  The Eagles are hardly sympathetic to their plight.

The talk of desperation in Dallas comes as the Eagles look to jump start the second half of their season.  The defending Super Bowl champions are 4-4 and have hardly looked like a team ready for a run at a repeat.  If the Cowboys think they will be the only desperate team on the field last night, they haven't been listening to the chatter from the Eagles' locker room during the week.  Head coach Doug Pederson made it clear what will be at stake for both teams.

"We're both kind of in the same boat," said Pederson.  "Both teams are looking to win football games, and whether you call it desperation, whether you call it must-win, both teams are kind of in that same situation.  You can throw out all the articles.  You can throw out the records.  You can throw out just about everything when it comes to games like this, especially in your division."  

READ: Eagles will be 'Back in Black' Sunday against Cowboys

Even with the same sense of desperation, the Eagles know the Cowboys have the potential to make thing difficult Sunday night.  The man who the Eagles' Defense will have to stop is Ezekiel Elliott.  In a year where defenses are more than ever geared to stop the run against Dallas, Elliott remains one of the most dangerous running backs in the NFL.  He is fourth in the league in rushing and Linebacker Nigel Bradham knows slowing down Elliott will be the key for the defense on Sunday.

"He's a great back," Bradham said.  "He's physical.  He runs downhill and he's able to break tackles.  Obviously, he's one of the top backs in this league."

READ: Eagles still dealing with key injuries

The Dallas defense has also had its moments.  Despite the team's overall struggles, the Cowboys' defensive unit is ranked fourth in the league and has kept Dallas in several close contests this season.  Pederson is particularly impressed with the Dallas pass rush, which has several players capable of getting to the quarterback.

"It's a good group," said Pederson.  "This is a total defense.  These guys get after you, especially on third-down, and it's very active, meaning a lot of games, a lot of stunts.  Our guys have worked extremely hard this week on it, and we just know that we're going to have to strain a little extra hard because this is a good front."

Most believe a Dallas loss on Sunday will all but end the Cowboys' hopes for a run at a division title.  A loss for the Eagles would put them at 4-5.  With the Redskins suddenly struggling and the Giants well off the division radar, the Eagles could recover from a defeat on Sunday.  However, games in New Orleans and Los Angeles are on the horizon, so the Eagles are treating this game as the most important contest of the season.  Safety Malcolm Jenkins had no interest in hearing about the Cowboys' woes.

"I look at our record," Jenkins said.  "We're 4-4.  We're not where we want to be right now.  I couldn't care less about them being desperate in the situation we're in right now.  We feel like we've got our backs against the wall with everything to play for."