Originally written on Eagles Eye  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Prior to Monday night's debacle in New Orleans, the Eagles were listed as -2.5 point favorites over the visiting Dallas Cowboys (3-5) for this Sunday...but now the Vegas money is pouring in for the Cowboys, making the Birds a 1-point underdog in their own house. Perfect. In a game which features two teams struggling to score points on offense, and two quarterbacks who each divide their respective fan bases right now, why not increase the level of urgency for the Eagles by labeling them the underdog? Ironically, Jerry Jones has blamed the Cowboys' offensive line as a "significant contributor" to Dallas being a "mediocre offensive team" over the past two seasons. So he went out and spent a ton of money on signing bonuses for free agent guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, switched right tackle Tyron Smith with left tackle Doug Free, and is still getting "mediocre" results from his offense. So this game could be seen in one way as battle of two offensive lines who are in painful transition right now, although with Todd Herremans now out for the season, the edge goes to the Dallas O-Line.           DeMarco Murray, arguably the Cowboys' best running back, is also unlikely to play, which may put extra pressure on the Dallas offensive line's run-blocking efforts. Jonathan Bales, who writes for the Cowboys blog Blue Star.com, believes the Eagles pass rush may have an edge over the Cowboys' offensive line and pass-pro this Sunday. "Normally, I choose one pass-rusher as the primary defender on which to focus, but the Eagles really have three outstanding pass-rushing options on the outside. Starters Trent Cole and Jason Babin can be terrors when rushing the quarterback, and third-year player Brandon Graham is finally coming into his own."   "When you take a quick glance at the Eagles’ pass-rushing stats, though, you don’t see the type of dominance of which they’re capable. The defense has totaled a sack on just 3.8 percent of pass plays this season—the fifth-lowest mark in the NFL. In comparison, the Cowboys have a sack on 6.5 percent of pass plays."   "Looking deeper into the numbers, though, you see the Eagles have really just been unlucky. That is, Philly’s pass-rush has gotten to the quarterback, but simply not brought him down. I’ve collected some stats on the relationship between pressure and sacks, discovering that over the long-haul, defenses bring down the quarterback just over one-fourth of the time they pressure him (25.7 percent, to be exact). When defenses have a high pressure rate but a low sack total, it means they’re highly likely to increase their sack rate in the future."   "Thus, offensive tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free are going to have their hands full on Sunday. Smith will be matched up primarily with Cole, who has played on the right side of the Eagles’ defense on 98.2 percent of his snaps, leaving Free to battle with Babin. The latter matchup is really where Philadelphia owns their biggest advantage, especially if the Cowboys utilize “11” personnel—only one tight end—so Free is on an island with the underperforming pass-rusher. If the Cowboys don’t give Free some help, Babin is going to explode. "   Urgent...and due. I like that combination.    

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