Cowboys at Eagles: Highlights, score and recap

Highlights, key players and recap from the NFC East clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 17.

The Dallas Cowboys have already gained the NFC East title and homefield advantage for the playoffs. But the franchise has never finished 14-2 in its history.

That’s what’s at stake when the Cowboys meet division rivals the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17. By contrast, the Eagles will just be playing for a seventh win under first-year head coach Doug Pederson.

He’s been rebuilding this team around the talents of rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. But the young passer needs more quality weapons supporting him.

Philly’s lack of dynamic wide receivers or a credible rushing attack are sure to be exposed this week. It means Wentz will be shouldering the burden against one of the NFL‘s toughest defenses.

Nobody in football is stingier against the run than these Cowboys. They’ll feel confident about shutting down veteran running back Darren Sproles.

However, the Cowboys will need a pass-rush to punish Wentz and the one-dimensional Eagles. Perhaps Randy Gregory can provide it. The troubled rush end played his first game of the season against the Detroit Lions last week after serving a second suspension.

When he’s motivated, Gregory has the raw speed and athleticism to win off the edge and crush the pass pocket. He’ll need to support the efforts of rookie D-tackle Maliek Collins to make life uncomfortable for Wentz.

The Eagles’ own defense may get a reprieve from facing prospective rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott. There have been hints the Cowboys may give their rookie workhorse a breather, per USA Today‘s Lorenzo Reyes.

Elliott can run over any defense, so the Eagles would rather he’s given a watching brief at the Linc’. Even if Elliott is sparingly used, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott still has enough weapons to move the ball.

Highlights

Highlights will be added and updated as and when they happen.

Three Stars

1. Lance Dunbar

He won’t replace Elliott’s threat as a runner, but Lance Dunbar can be a force in the passing game. The diminutive and speedy back is a mismatch against Eagles linebackers in space.

Prescott must target Dunbar early and often on a variety of routes. Quick throws to a sure-handed receiver out of the backfield are the best way for Prescott to beat the rush from Philly’s talented front four.

2. Brandon Graham

One member of the Eagles’ fired-up defensive front Prescott may not be able to avoid is Brandon Graham. The skilled defensive end has been a menace creating pressure this season.

Graham offers a devilish mix of raw power and deceptive speed off the edge. The combination tormented right tackle Doug Free in the first meeting between these two teams back in Week 8.

Graham can still give Free problems, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz should move him around to take advantage of left tackle Tyron Smith missing out through injury.

3. Zach Ertz

If Wentz is going to punch holes in the Dallas defense, he’ll need help from Zach Ertz to do it. The talented tight end is a rare thing in today’s league, namely a complete player at his position.

Ertz is a capable blocker and productive receiver. The Eagles will need to exploit the latter quality against the holes in the Cowboys’ zone schemes.

Wentz could rely on Ertz since wideout Jordan Matthews remains a doubt after twice missing practice, per CSN Philly‘s Dave Zangaro. Pederson must use formation and personnel to set Ertz free.

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