Eagles vs. Cowboys: 10 numbers that matter
Here are 10 Eagles-Cowboys numbers that matter:
34 - The number of big-play passes (25+ yards) for Tony Romo this season. Only Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have more. Since the Eagles last played the Cowboys, Romo has gone without an interception in six of seven games. In that span, he's thrown 18 TDs and just two picks. In the fourth quarter, Romo has a 103.6 QB rating. On third down, he has a 107.4 rating. And in the red zone, he's thrown 17 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Eagles' defense has played well the last two weeks, but Juan Castillo's group faces a big challenge today, especially without Asante Samuel.
102 - The number of times Jason Witten has been targeted this season, a team-high. He was targeted 12 times the first meeting against the Eagles, but came away with just four catches for 28 yards. The Eagles did an outstanding job on Witten, using a variety of coverages. Nnamdi Asomugha was on him for about 12 of 40 pass plays, but the Eagles used Jamar Chaney and some zone looks too. With Asante Samuel out, they probably don't have the luxury of using Asomugha on Witten. Maybe Keenan Clayton, who's been playing more in the nickel, will get a shot at him. Overall, the Eagles rank fourth in the league at covering opposing tight ends, according to Football Outsiders.
25 - The number of touchdown passes allowed by the Eagles' defense, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. The Eagles suddenly rank seventh against No. 1 wide receivers, according to Football Outsiders. No. 1 wideouts are seeing 5.8 targets per game against the Eagles, the fewest of any team. All of the Cowboys' weapons are capable of hitting on big plays. Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson are averaging 15.6 and 16.2 yards per catch, respectively, and have nine touchdowns apiece. Bryant has 17 catches of 20+ yards; Witten has 14; Robinson has 11; and Miles Austin has nine. All four players are averaging between 60.0 and 66.0 yards per game. The Eagles have the 11th-ranked pass defense, according to Football Outsiders.
5.6 - Felix Jones' yards per carry in the past two games (214 yards on 38 carries). Keep an eye on those inactives around 2:45 p.m. Jones is listed as questionable. If he can't go, the Cowboys are left with Sammy Morris and Chauncey Washington, who was just called up from the practice squad. The Eagles' defense is allowing 4.3 yards per carry, which ranks 19th. Football Outsiders has the Eagles' run D ranked 17th.
46 - The number of sacks for the Eagles' defense, which ranks first. The Eagles are also first in sack rate (which takes into account opportunities and other factors). The Cowboys have allowed 30 sacks, tied for 11th-fewest, and their offensive line ranks 10th in pass protection, according to Football Outsiders. During the first Eagles-Cowboys game, the Birds blitzed only four times on 40 pass plays, and all four of their sacks came with four-man rushes. But last week against the Jets, they blitzed Mark Sanchez 29.4 percent of the time. Getting pressure on Romo will once again be key. And Castillo will have to choose his spots wisely when dialing up extra pressure.
81.3 - Vick's completion percentage in the first Cowboys game when Dallas did not blitz him and sent only three or four pass rushers. Last week, when the Jets didn't blitz, Vick was 10-for-12 for 142 yards. On the flip side, when Dallas sent six or more rushers at Vick in the first game, he was 1-for-4 for 8 yards and sacked four times. What's the point? When Vick is playing well, with this offensive line and and his weapons healthy, the Eagles' passing attack can look like one of the league's best. But my guess is Rob Ryan will take his chances sending heavy blitzes at Vick, especially considering DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff are not 100 percent.
119 - What LeSean McCoy needs to average in the final two games to tie Wilbert Montgomery's single-season rushing mark of 1,512 yards. McCoy is 60 yards behind Maurice Jones-Drew for the league's rushing lead. McCoy's 47 runs of 10+ yards are tops in the NFL. He is second in the league in stuffs (runs stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage) with 40, behind only Atlanta's Michael Turner.
852 - The number of snaps played by McCoy this season, according to Pro Football Focus. That's the most of any running back. Ray Rice is second with 747. No other running back has played more than 685. McCoy has 260 rushing attempts, fourth-most in the league. Have there been times when Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg could have used him more? Sure. But overall, McCoy has had a heavy workload compared to other backs in the league.
78.8 - Brent Celek's catch rate (percentage of catches per targets) in the last eight games. The Eagles have rarely ended up with an incompletion when targeting Celek. In the first meeting against Dallas, he led the Eagles with seven catches for 94 yards, but linebacker Sean Lee was injured during that game. If Dallas once again plays its safeties deep, Celek will have his opportunities to do damage.
4 - Number of times the Eagles have given the ball away on special teams in the last two weeks. There have been two Curtis Marsh fumbles, a Dion Lewis fumble and a blocked punt. Overall, Football Outsiders has the Eagles' special teams ranked 17th. The Cowboys are worse (23rd). The Eagles likely won't be able to get away with any special teams mishaps today.
Extra points: The Eagles and Cowboys are 19th and 20th, respectively, in red-zone offense... The Eagles are 30th in red-zone defense, while the Cowboys are 18th... The Eagles lead the league with 35 giveaways. The Cowboys have turned it over 19 times.
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