With the winner of the Cowboys-Eagles tilt taking a one-game lead (and owning a tiebreaker) in a division that’s suddenly a two-horse race, the stakes couldn’t be any higher for a Week 7 meeting. With the way these offenses are playing, the game could quickly turn into a shootout. Here are a few important matchups I’ll be watching for the Cowboys’ defense.
RB LeSean McCoy vs. ?
In all likelihood, there won’t be just one guy assigned to cover McCoy out of the backfield. But it will be interesting to see if Monte Kiffin is fine placing one of the linebackers on the running back on the majority of snaps, because they’ve all surprisingly struggled in coverage this year.
Bruce Carter has allowed 1.46 yards per route that he’s been in coverage—fifth-highest for any 4-3 outside linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus
. Even Lee has given up 1.12 yards per route, ranking him 36th
among middle linebackers.
Kiffin might be wise to place a safety on McCoy in most situations, or even Orlando Scandrick at times when McCoy lines up as a receiver.
RT Lane Johnson vs. DE George Selvie
I liked Lane Johnson
coming out of college, but he’s struggled in his rookie year, allowing the seventh-most pressures of any player. Further, while the Eagles have run for 5.4 YPC as a team, it’s been just 4.2 YPC behind Johnson.
This matchup is so important for Dallas because, with DeMarcus Ware presumably out, Selvie needs to step up. With his long arms and strength, Selvie might be able to overpower Johnson on his way to a couple of much-needed sacks.
WR DeSean Jackson vs. Dallas CBs
If I were defending the Eagles, I’d use Scandrick to shadow Jackson, even when the wide receiver lines up out wide. Scandrick has played better than any Cowboys defender in 2013, giving up just 0.73 yards per route—a top 10 mark.
Meanwhile, Jackson has been outstanding in Chip Kelly’s offense, catching 34 of his 52 targets for 589 yards for five touchdowns. Foles and Michael Vick have generated a 135.8 rating when throwing to Jackson, which is the second-highest for any wide receiver.
Jackson isn’t a red zone threat—his 12.7 career touchdown rate inside the 20 is horrible—but the Cowboys will need to find a way to stop him from gashing them downfield.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.