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Eagles-Cowboys: The Key Matchups

Posted Dec 29, 2013

Here is a look at three matchups to watch tonight which could go a long way in determining which team ends up winning the NFC East title ...

RB LeSean McCoy vs. LB DeVonte Holloman

McCoy, much like the rest on the Eagles offense, was corralled to the tune of 55 yards on 18 carries (3.1 yards per carry) and 26 receiving yards in the first meeting between these two clubs earlier this season.

Fortunately, the league's leading rusher is playing his best football at the right time. Three weeks ago, McCoy rushed for a franchise-record 217 yards against the Lions. Last week, McCoy had 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. the Bears. McCoy also has the franchise's single-season rushing record in his sights as he needs 37 yards to surpass Wilbert Montgomery's mark of 1,512 rushing yards.

The Dallas Cowboys rank 27th in run defense and have allowed 200 yards or more on the ground three times this season. To make matters worse, middle linebacker Sean Lee is out with a neck injury. Lee earned the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week honors in the first matchup against the Eagles earlier this season. Holloman started at middle linebacker last week against Washington in Lee's absence.

WR DeSean Jackson vs. CB Brandon Carr

Jackson, like McCoy, is on the verge of a new franchise single-season record. Jackson needs only 106 yards to break the mark set by Mike Quick in 1983.

In the first meeting between the two teams, Jackson was targeted eight times, but had only three catches for a season-low 21 yards. Jackson, of course, has had some memorable games against Dallas, including his career-high 210-yard performance at the Cowboys in 2010.

The Cowboys' pass defense is next-to-last in the league in yards allowed and, with a chance to seize the division, this is where the best players need to shine the brightest. Carr is a tough, physical man-to-man corner, but has been exploited in zone coverage. The Eagles need Jackson to capitalize on the big-play opportunities when they present themselves.

LB Trent Cole vs. LT Tyron Smith

In the first eight games of the 2013 season, Cole had no sacks and the Eagles were 3-5. In the past seven games, the Eagles are 6-1 and Cole has eight sacks, which includes his three-sack bonanza last week against the Bears. Coincidence?

Cole was held to four tackles and a quarterback hurry in the first meeting against Dallas. With Kyle Orton at quarterback, he will be more of a stationary target than the elusive Tony Romo. It will be important for Cole to continue his hot streak and apply pressure early in the game and not allow Orton to get into a rhythm.

Cole sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on the game's opening drive last week and it set the tone for the defense as they held the No. 2 offense in the league to a mere 11 points.

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