Five things to watch in the Cowboys-Eagles game

Posted Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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1Touches for Randle

The Cowboys drafted Joseph Randle for just this occasion — to use in case DeMarco Murray was hurt. He has a similar running style and can catch out of the backfield. But for short-yardage work, the Cowboys will probably turn to Phillip Tanner. Even so, the Cowboys have to think about how much they will feature the running game.

2Return yards

Dwayne Harris holds the top averages for kickoff returns and punt returns in the NFL. The Eagles are one of the worst teams in the league at kickoff coverage, and they have their problems in punt coverage, too. Like those two returns last week, this sets up nicely for Harris.

3Catch zone

The Cowboys have shown they’re not that strong at covering backs and tight ends. Problem here is the Eagles have a good pass-catching tight end in Brent Celek, although he hasn’t been used much, and of course, LeSean “Shady” McCoy. If the Cowboys linebackers have not solved their drop-depth issues, there will be room to run after the catch.

4Boxing McCoy

Speaking of Shady, the Cowboys already know the best way to tackle McCoy is not to try it alone. The Cowboys want to get bodies around him, but that will be easier said than done. As important as keeping McCoy and the ball in front of them is, it will also matter how much room the Cowboys allow him to accelerate and cut.

5Getting ahead

The Cowboys have taken 7-0 leads in three of the past four games. But they have all been at home. They have not scored first on the road this season. At Philadelphia, the Cowboys can do themselves a favor by getting ahead and staying ahead, potentially limiting how much the Eagles want to turn to their No. 1-rated ground game.

— Carlos Mendez

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