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Eagles-Cowboys: Key pregame stats that matter | Paul Domowitch

Zach Ertz had his best game of the season against the Cowboys in Week 10. But Alshon Jeffery is going to need to be a bigger part of the offense today than he's been if the Eagles hope to keep pace with the Cowboys.

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery runs with the football during warm-ups before the Eagles play Washington on Monday, December 3, 2018 in Philadelphia.
Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery runs with the football during warm-ups before the Eagles play Washington on Monday, December 3, 2018 in Philadelphia.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Breaking down today’s Eagles-Cowboys game:

The run-game story

— Last week against the Redskins, the Eagles ran the ball 33 times, including 17 times in the first half and nine times in the first quarter. That was their second most rushing attempts in a game (they had 35 in Week 3 against the Colts), but the most in any first quarter or first half.

— In the Eagles’ Week 10 loss to the Cowboys, they ran the ball a total of 16 times, including seven times in the first half and only twice in the first quarter.

— Rookie Josh Adams had 42 carries in the last two games — 20 against the Redskins and 22 against the Giants. He’s the first Eagles running back with back-to-back 20-carry games since DeMarco Murray in 2015.

— Adams is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He has nine rushing first downs and six runs of 10 yards or more in the last two games. He’s averaging 4.8 yards per carry on first down. As a team, the Eagles are averaging 4.15 yards per carry on first down. They averaged 4.68 last year.

— Carson Wentz doesn’t have any rushing first downs in the last three games after registering nine in his first seven starts. Wentz, who had 26 rushing first downs last year, which was the sixth most among NFL quarterbacks, is averaging just three rushing attempts per game this season, down from last year’s 4.9. While he had four rushing attempts last week against the Redskins, all of them were kneel-downs, one at the end of the half, the other three at the end of the game.

— Corey Clement has averaged 6.9 yards per carry in the last three games (12-83), and 8.7 yards per touch (rushing and receiving).

— The Cowboys are second in the league in opponent rush average, holding teams to 3.7 yards per carry. They’ve held their last four opponents under 80 yards, and have allowed more than 100 rushing yards just twice in their last nine games.

— The Eagles have thrown the ball 201 times on first down and run it 158.

— The Eagles have run 433 of their 784 offensive plays (55.2 percent) with “11’’ personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR). Just 149 of those 433 plays (34.4 percent) have been run plays. Just 37.2 percent of their plays with 12 personnel (1RB, 2TE) have been run plays. The only one of their three most often used personnel groupings in which they’ve run more than they’ve passed is 13 (1 RB, 3 TE). Fifty of 81 plays with 13 personnel (61.7 percent) have been runs.

— The Eagles are averaging 4.4 yards per carry out of shotgun and just 3.7 from under center. Last year, they averaged 5.1 out of shotgun and 3.8 from under center.

— Adams is averaging 5.4 yards per carry out of shotgun (37-202) and 4.5 from under center (39-175).

The field position story

— The Eagles have moved up to 22nd in average drive start (27.2-yard line) after having a 30-plus average drive start in three of the last four games, including 30.0 last week against the Redskins and 31.1 the week before against the Giants. They had their highest average drive start of the season in their 27-20 Week 10 loss to the Cowboys — 32.3.

— Just 19 of the Eagles’ 132 possessions have started at their own 40-yard line or better this season. They had 43 possessions start at the 40-plus last year.

— In their back-to-back wins over the Redskins and Giants the last two weeks, the combined opponent average drive start was only the 23.4. For the season, the average opponent drive start is the 27.6. The Redskins didn’t have any possessions start at the 40 or better. The Giants had one.

— The Eagles are 14th in yards per drive (33.6), but 21st in points per drive (1.95).

— The Eagles’ average touchdown drive this season has been 70.3 yards. Last year, it was 61.9. FYI, shorter is better.

— Through 12 games, the Eagles have 28 offensive touchdowns. Nineteen of them (67.9 percent) have been 70 yards or more. Just three have been less than 60 yards. Last year, just 53.2 percent of the Eagles’ touchdown drives (25 of 47) were 70 yards or more. They had 17 TD drives that were 60 yards or less.

— Just eight of the Eagles’ 28 touchdown drives have been six plays or less. Last year, they had 19.

Third-down stuff

— The Redskins converted just two of 10 third-down opportunities against the Eagles last week. But in the five games before that, the Eagles’ third-down defense hadn’t been very good. Their previous five opponents had converted 46.9 percent of their third-down opportunities. In the first six games this season, the defense had held opponents to a 29.5 third-down success rate.

— Through 12 games, the Eagles are fifth in third-down defense with a 36.2 opponent success rate. Last year, opponents converted just 32.2 percent of their third downs.

— The Cowboys offense is only 17th in third-down efficiency (39.0). But that figure is misleading. There is the Cowboys on third down before they acquired Amari Cooper, and the Cowboys on third down after they acquired Cooper. In seven games before the Cooper trade, the Cowboys were 30th in the league in third-down efficiency (31.9). Quarterback Dak Prescott’s third-down passer rating before Cooper arrived was 87.4 (62.1 completion percentage, 6.9 yards per attempt). In the five games since they got Cooper, the Cowboys have converted 48.5 percent of their third-down opportunities. Prescott’s third-down passer rating with Cooper is 106.0 (72.8 completion percentage, 8.0 yards per attempt). Cooper has 10 third-down catches in his five games with the Cowboys, eight for first downs.

Passing-game stuff

— Carson Wentz has thrown for more than three first downs on third down just twice in the last six games. Last year, he did it 10 times in 13 starts. Last year, 50 percent of his third-down pass attempts (62 of 124) produced first downs. This year, 44.8 percent (39 of 87).

— Wentz is 12th in the league in third-down passing with a 94.9 rating. That’s considerably lower than his league-best 123.6 rating last year. He has a 59.8 completion percentage and is averaging 6.63 yards per attempt on third down. Last year, he had a 65.3 third-down completion percentage and averaged 9.5 yards per attempt.

— Wentz is just 3-for-16 on throws of 20-plus yards in the last four games. He has a 38.1 completion percentage on deep balls this season. But that’s actually higher than last year, when he completed just 33.8 percent of his 20-plus yard throws.

— Wentz is fifth in completion percentage (69.6), but only 17th in touchdown percentage (1/20.5 attempts).

— Wentz wasn’t sacked in last week’s win over the Redskins. It was the first time in 10 starts this season that he went through a game without getting sacked. It happened just once in 13 starts last year and three times in 16 starts as a rookie.

— Wentz threw just one interception in his first five starts this season, but has thrown six in his last five starts.

— Zach Ertz has been targeted 74 times in the last eight games and has 62 receptions. His 83.8 catch rate during that period is the highest of any wide receiver or tight end in the league with at least 20 catches.

— Ertz had his best receiving game of the season against the Cowboys in Week 10. He was targeted 16 times and had 14 catches for 145 yards, two touchdowns and eight first downs.

— Ertz has a team-high 54 receiving first downs. Alshon Jeffery is a distant second with 33.

— Jeffery hasn’t had more than 48 receiving yards in any of the last five games. Last year, when he was playing with an injured shoulder, he had 10 games with more than 48 receiving yards.

— Nelson Agholor has just 10 third-down receptions this season, including four in the last nine games. Last year, he had 21.

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