Dallas Cowboys: What to expect from Week Eleven?

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Dak Prescott
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Dak Prescott /

The Dallas Cowboys will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles as one of the hottest rivalries in the NFL reignites. Here are some things to look out for.

These last two weeks for the Dallas Cowboys have been similar to the Netflix series Stranger Things in that the team is now living in the upside down. Injuries to key players such as Sean Lee and Tyron Smith have made this tough stretch of the NFL season even tougher.

Now with the high powered Philadelphia Eagles up next, this is a must-win for Dallas if they hope to win the division. Here are some important factors to watch in this pivotal Sunday night contest.

Can the Dallas Cowboys protect Dak Prescott?:

The Dallas Cowboys have a big problem on their hands as they will need to find a way to protect Dak Prescott with Tyron Smith out for another week. The Cowboys All-Pro lineman has been the best the game has to offer for several seasons now, however, he is still suffering from groin and hip injuries that should keep him out.

Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys were exposed. Replacement left tackle Chaz Green stunk up the building with his poor play and backup Byron Bell was not a whole lot better. Another week of practice with the ones plus some coaching adjustments should make both players a bit more effective however the Cowboys have to be worried.

The Philadelphia Eagles pass rush has been scary and they have to be excited to face Dallas without their best offensive lineman. Dak always performs well under bright lights especially against the Eagles, however, it is going to take a highly productive game from him for Dallas to come out victorious. Expect a lot more tight ends and backs to help out the offensive line as they look to compensate for Smith’s absence.

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Can anyone step up with Sean Lee out?

The Eagles have gotten even more dangerous offensively thanks to the acquisition of running back Jay Ajayi. Sean Lee is the leagues best run stopping linebacker and he will be absent during this matchup.

The Dallas Cowboys defense showed signs of growth however injuries have really derailed all of that promise. This is unequivocally the worst time for Lee and Smith to go down with injuries.

Now the Cowboys want to not rely so heavily on Sean Lee and force him into unnecessary snaps so what did they do? They added Jaylon Smith who is coming along nicely after spending his rookie season out with an injury.

The main issue is that this is technically Smith’s rookie season and he has not even scratched the surface of his potential, it would be unfair for Dallas to expect him to have the same level of production.

Anthony Hitchens, on the other hand, is a veteran linebacker who is probably their best player at the linebacker position besides Lee. He is a veteran who has some solid run stopping skills.

He will likely be a much bigger part of the game plan this week and every week until Lee is back on the field. Linebackers Damien Wilson and Justin Durant also are expected to play a bigger role this week as the team continues to look for ways to replace Lee’s production.

Which running attack will prove to be more productive?

The Dallas Cowboys will need to do some excellent re-tooling along in order to put up more rushing yards than the Eagles. Not only are the Cowboys going to be without their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott.

That means Alfred Morris, Rod Smith, and Darren McFadden will play a much bigger role however we do not currently know who will get the most carries. Last week Alfred Morris was by far the most productive back however the Cowboys could not run block effectively which made the whole matchup a wash.

This week if the Cowboys can get some semblance of blocking Morris could have a big day and I am sure he would be happy with it coming at the expense of the Eagles. Rod Smith is also a wildcard as he has shown some terrific burst and is eventually thought to take over the backup role.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, has Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement all ready to roll in this matchup. While we may not know who their primary back is we know that all of these players can produce.

The Cowboys will struggle to defend against the run without Sean Lee and that situation will make life a lot easier for Eagles backs. It appears that the birds will have the better day on the ground but there is always a chance that the Cowboys committee of backs gets the job done.

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Dak VS Carson:

This matchup will be an emerging rivalry for the next couple of years as Dak and Wentz will be linked forever. Not only are they rivals in the NFC East but they are in the same draft class and have incredibly similar numbers.

Dak had a big year in 2016 and could continue to have a terrific year if the Dallas Cowboys can protect him. Wentz had a less than stellar 2016 but has bounced back in a major way this season as he is a favorite to be MVP if the Eagles keep winning.

This matchup will not put an end to the debate of who is better but what it will illustrate is who could do more with less. Dak will need to be absolutely magical if the Cowboys are going to steal a win against one of the NFL’s most dominant teams.

At full strength, the Cowboys would win this matchup no questions asked, but if Dak manages to pull out a victory on Sunday it will just be another feather in his cap.