Dallas Cowboys

Just saying the word Cowboys is enough incentive for front-running Eagles

Dak Prescott and Jason Witten are inspired after loss by volunteering with Salvation Army

The two Cowboys players served an early Thanksgiving meal on Monday at the Salvation Army. Listen to the quarterback and tight end discuss how the volunteer work humbles and inspires them to keep working hard.
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The two Cowboys players served an early Thanksgiving meal on Monday at the Salvation Army. Listen to the quarterback and tight end discuss how the volunteer work humbles and inspires them to keep working hard.

The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles don’t need any incentives when they play each other.

But Sunday’s meeting is expected to have a playoff tone.

The Eagles (8-1) have the best record in the NFL and hold a three-game lead over Dallas in the NFC East.

The Cowboys (5-4) are doing the math on how to get in the postseason because they are currently on the outside looking in.

Then there’s the natural physical play that tends to mark this rivalry.

No introductions necessary.

Here are five things to know about the Eagles:

The Wentz Show

The Eagles haven’t lost any sleep since paying a steep price in the 2016 draft to trade up and select Carson Wentz second overall. It’s been well worth the investment. Wentz is having an most valuable player-caliber year in his sophomore season. He’s thrown for 2,262 yards with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions. Wentz lost at Dallas last season (and then won a season finale at home against mostly backups), but has taken strides in his development and leads the league’s fourth-ranked offense.

Welcome, Ajayi

The Eagles boosted an already strong running game by acquiring Frisco Liberty product Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins at the Oct. 31 trade deadline. Ajayi didn’t disappoint in his Eagles debut, rushing for 77 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Veteran LeGarrette Blount leads the team with 504 rushing yards on 109 carries.

Injury concerns?

The Eagles have sustained significant injuries to their roster, but that hasn’t slowed them down. Left tackle Jason Peters had a season-ending knee injury against the Redskins on Oct. 23, but the Eagles have scored more than 30 points in easy wins the next two games. Linebacker Jordan Hicks was lost the same game as Peters, but the defense has held the past two opponents to less than 240 yards of total offense.

Stout D

The Eagles have the best run defense in the NFL, holding opponents to just 66.4 rushing yards a game. They have disruptive forces up front in defensive end Brandon Graham, who has five sacks, and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who has 4.5 sacks. In the secondary, the Eagles have Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson. Mills and Robinson each have three interceptions on the season, tied for fourth-most in the league. Philly is one of only six teams with at least 11 interceptions this season.

Specialists matter

The Cowboys and Eagles are one of the great rivalries in the NFL, and close games tend to happen between them. That puts added emphasis on the special teams and the Eagles have appeared to find a reliable kicker in rookie Jake Elliott. Elliott drilled a 61-yard field goal to beat the New York Giants in Week 3, the longest field goal ever kicked in Philadelphia. Elliott has made 17 of 20 of his field goal attempts, including 5 of 6 from 50-plus yards. But he’s missed three point-after attempts (24 of 27) this season.

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison

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