Heading into the 2022 NFL season, the two favorites for the NFC East crown were the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. After five weeks of the season, the two teams remain at the top of the division, and will square off on Sunday night in a pivotal contest. The Eagles remain the only undefeated team in the NFL at 5-0, after their 20-17 road victory against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5. Dallas took down the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams last Sunday with a dominating defensive performance, 22-10.
We’ll examine a few factors that might determine the outcome of the game.
Battle In The Trenches
Fans are always in for a treat when the strength of two teams matches up to see which will be able to establish their imprint on the game. The Cowboys’ front seven on defense, led by budding superstar Micah Parsons will encounter an Eagles offensive line that will be up to the task of trying to stop them. Veteran center Jason Kelce has been one of the best players in the pivot for a long time, and his acumen will help quarterback Jalen Hurts identify where free rushers might be coming from.
It will be interesting to see if Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn tries to manufacture pressure against Philadelphia. His defense has so much talent that they might try to get to Hurts with four rushers, but the Eagles offensive line might be caught off guard by a well timed blitz. It will be an amazing chess match to watch.
Dallas Backfield Committee
While the Cowboys defensive linemen and linebackers deserve the praise they receive, the front seven that Philadelphia rolls out on a weekly basis is pretty formidable as well. Fletcher Cox, Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham will give the Dallas offensive line all they can handle on Sunday night.
With this matchup in mind, it will be intriguing to monitor where Dallas remains as committed to their running back utilization as they have maintained this season. The Cowboys have routinely expressed confidence in Ezekiel Elliott, while sprinkling in Tony Pollard as a change of pace. The statistics this year bear out what the eye test has revealed; Pollard is the more explosive player. He’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season, compared to Elliott’s 3.8. Relying on Elliott to elude a talented Eagles defense may be a lot to ask.
Welcome To The Rivalry, A.J. Brown
Philadelphia’s draft day trade for wide receiver A.J. Brown was finalized with games like Sunday night’s tilt in mind. The Eagles trudged their way through the season last year without a true lid-lifter on offense, which limited their upside. With Brown on the field, the Cowboys will have to respect the notion that Brown could take a pass the distance which may limit their aggressiveness.
There’s a good chance that star Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs will line up across from Brown more often than not, and it will be exciting to see whether Hurts still looks in that direction. Diggs has displayed tremendous ball skills in his career this far.