Both desperate to remain in the NFC East hunt, the Dallas Cowboys attempt to snap a five-game losing streak and bury the rival Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday night’s division clash at AT&T Stadium.
After starting the season 1-3, the Eagles appeared to have turned their early woes around with home wins over New Orleans and the division leading New York Giants. But they fell 27-16 to conference-best Carolina in Week 7 before their bye and have slipped to below .500 yet again.
The Cowboys are in even worse shape, sitting last in the division at 2-5 after nearly bumping off defending conference champ Seattle last week by a score of 13-12, despite gaining 103 fewer yards than the Seahawks.
But New York is only 4-4, and while each team has struggled, Dallas and Philadelphia can still make a run for the division crown over the final eight weeks of the season.
For one, the Cowboys will roll out leading playmaker and receiver Dez Bryant for the second straight game after he missed five straight with a broken foot. The Pro Bowler managed only two receptions for 12 yards in his return, but he faced a top-notch Seattle secondary that has played far better than Philadelphia’s No. 13 ranked unit.
And to take some pressure off inconsistent quarterback Matt Cassel and Bryant, veteran running back Darren McFadden has emerged with 216 rushing yards and one touchdown over the last two games.
McFadden’s rise could hurt a Philadelphia defense that’s struggled against the run this year. The Eagles are No. 18 in the NFL with 109.9 rushing yards allowed per game, but they have forced more takeaways, 19, than any other team in the league.
With Cassel connecting on only 57.7 percent of his passes, and owning three interceptions in two starts this season, Philadelphia’s secondary could create more opportunities for an offense that has failed to live up to expectations.
Last year the Eagles were third in the league with 29.6 points per game, but quarterback Sam Bradford’s 10 interceptions to only nine touchdown passes and injuries to running backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews have limited Philadelphia to 22.9 points a contest.
The Cowboys may miss third-string receiver Brice Butler (hamstring) and starting strong safety Barry Chuch (ankle), both of whom were listed as questionable in the week’s final injury report.
Philadelphia enters the game far more banged up. Rookie receiver Nelson Agholor (ankle), Mathews (groin), offensive tackle Jason Peters (back), and linebacker DeMeco Ryans (hamstring) are all questionable prior to the game. Mathews held the same status in Week 7 and wound up playing against Carolina, while Agholor was ruled out for the last two games.
Ryans, who’s tied for third on the team with four passes defensed, hasn’t played since Week 6’s victory over the Giants.
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Live Online: SNF All Access