News & Analysis

NFL Week 11 Preview: Eagles at Cowboys

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 1: Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks to pass and Jason Kelce #62 blocks against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on January 1, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Cowboys 27-13. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Eagles visit the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.

PFFELO Ranking: 2

Coverage by: Mike Alessandrini

Matchup: Philadelphia Eagles offense vs. Dallas Cowboys defense

  • Eagles run blocking vs. Cowboys run defense – Philadelphia’s rushing attack will be a key component of their offensive strategy this week. The team’s offensive line has been one of the top run-blocking units in the NFL, led by center Jason Kelce (96.7 run block grade, No. 1 at his position). Kelce has 66 blocks PFF considered ‘wins’ compared to 27 ‘losses.’ The next offensive lineman has 51 wins. It’s not just Kelce, though, as four of the team’s five starters rank inside the top eight in their respective positions in terms of run block grade. The Cowboys do not rely on their interior defenders to dominate against the run, as both David Irving and Maliek Collins’ run-defense grade rank in the bottom half of their position. Instead, the team will look to linebacker Anthony Hitchens in wake of Sean Lee’s injury. Hitchens ranks second among linebackers with a 15.3 run-stop percentage while not missing a tackle in 85 run snaps.

Philadelphia Eagles, offensive line, run-block grades

  • T Lane Johnson vs. Edge DeMarcus Lawrence – This matchup between two high-level talents will be an exciting one to watch on Sunday Night Football. Johnson has been a steady presence for the Eagles this season, allowing just two sacks in eight games. His 97.2 pass blocking efficiency grade is second-best among active offensive tackles logging at least 200 pass-block snaps. For Dallas, DeMarcus Lawrence has played like an elite defensive end in 2017, earning a 90.2 overall grade. He ranks second at his position with 12 sacks and fourth with 46 total pressures. His 14.4 pass-rush productivity also ranks fourth. Keeping Carson Wentz clean will be a vital piece of Philadelphia’s game plan, and it starts with this head-to-head matchup.
  • QB Carson Wentz vs. Cowboys cornerbacks – Speaking of Wentz, the quarterback is enjoying a productive sophomore season for the Eagles. His 85.0 overall grade is sixth-best at the position, and his 23 touchdowns are a league-high. Wentz has particularly excelled in the short and intermediate passing game. He has a 103.5 passer rating on short throws (fourth-highest) and a 135.5 rating on intermediate throws (best among quarterbacks). The former second overall selection is also efficient in coach Doug Pederson’s 3-step concepts. Wentz has the most pass attempts (103), completions (73), yards (698) and touchdowns (nine) in the NFL on these concepts. No quarterback throws 3-step concept routes more often than Wentz (35.4 percent of dropbacks). These trends will be something Cowboys starters Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown will make note of. Brown surrendered a touchdown to Justin Hardy last week, but he allowed just two of his remaining five targets to be caught while defending two passes. Scandrick has earned a 73.3 overall grade in 2017 and is the team’s top slot corner. The veteran ranks 12th with 0.98 yards per coverage snap from the slot.

PFFELO Ranking: 10

Coverage by: Aaron Jones

Matchup: Dallas Cowboys offense vs. Philadelphia Eagles defense

  • T La'el Collins vs. Edge Brandon Graham – The 60th-rated (45.7 overall grade) tackle in the league, La’el Collins, draws a matchup this week against one of the premier edge rushers in the NFL, Brandon Graham. Collins allowed three total pressures (all hurries) on 42 pass block snaps last week, giving him a pass blocking efficiency of 94.6, 37th among 58 qualifying offensive tackles. His pass blocking efficiency for the season now sits at 93.0, tied for 58th among 78 qualifying offensive tackles. Graham currently has an overall grade of 92.1, third among 110 qualifying edge defenders. He’s notched 41 total pressures on the season, tied for eighth-most among 106 qualifying edge defenders. Incredible against the run as well, Graham has a run-stop percentage of 15.5, the highest of all edge defenders.
  • G Zack Martin vs. DI Fletcher Cox – With an overall grade of 90.0, Zack Martin currently sits at second among 78 qualifying offensive guards. He gets a tough matchup this week with Fletcher Cox, the 12th-highest graded interior defender (88.3) this season. Martin has allowed only seven total pressures (one sack) on 323 pass-block snaps, good for a pass-blocking efficiency of 98.3, second among 76 qualifying guards. Cox has excelled in rushing the passer this season, notching 32 total pressures, sixth most among all interior defenders. His pass-rush productivity of 11.7 is tied for fifth among 109 qualifying interior defenders.

Zack Martin, guard, Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Dez Bryant vs. Eagles cornerbacks – Depending on formations and lineups, Dez Bryant could see multiple different cornerbacks in coverage Sunday, including Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, and Jalen Mills. Bryant currently sits at 14th among 113 qualifying wide receivers with an overall grade of 81.2. Robinson is having a career year, with his overall grade of 91.2 the third-highest among 115 qualifying cornerbacks. He’s allowing a quarterback rating of 69.6 when targeted, the 24th-lowest mark among 116 qualifying cornerbacks. Douglas and Mills are both having solid seasons, currently ranked 48th and 65th, respectively.

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