Game Preview: First place on line as Eagles face Cowboys

It's a holiday showdown in Dallas, and for the Eagles, there is so much more on the line than just to make Thanksgiving happier in Philadelphia.

The 8-3 Eagles meet the 8-3 Cowboys in a game that will finally separate the two teams in the NFC East. A win could be the key to winning the division in a few weeks. Whatever happens, it sets up a great precursor for the meeting between the two teams in Philadelphia just two weeks from now.

Kickoff of this holiday matchup is set for 4:30 p.m. from AT&T Stadium.

The Eagles come in following a strong 43-24 win over the Titans on Sunday. It's a short week for both teams, so Mark Sanchez and company will have to be ready.

Offensively, the Eagles seem fit to compete with the Cowboys. Dallas ranks 19th in passing yards allowed and 13th in rushing yards allowed, giving Sanchez a chance to earn big yardage with Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews.

The x-factor could be LeSean McCoy. It's been a rough season for McCoy, but one of his best games was the Eagles last division game against the Giants. If there is a game where McCoy can break out, it may be this one, solely for the magnitude of the game.

Defensively, the Eagles will need to set the tone with pressure on Tony Romo. Connor Barwin is second in the league in sacks, Brandon Graham leads the league in forced fumbles and linebackers Trent Cole and Mychal Kendricks will be responsible for pressuring Romo while containing DeMarco Murray.

The secondary of Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Malcolm Jenkins have the responsibility of containing tough receivers Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

It's been a strong season for the Cowboys and most of that is due to Murray. Murray has 1,354 rushing yards this season and seven touchdowns.

Romo has been strong as well, with 2,519 passing yards and 22 touchdowns with six interceptions.

Bryant has 879 yards and 10 touchdowns. Witten has 461 yards and four touchdowns.

The Dallas defense is led by George Selvie and Nick Hayden at the line, Ronaldo McClain at middle linebacker and J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church in the secondary.

Church, McClain and Wilcox rank in the top three on the team in tackles. The three also have five of the team's 11 interceptions. Selvie has two sacks and one forced fumble.

Game Notes

  • The Eagles are 4-6 in their last 10 games against the Cowboys. Dallas swept the season series in 2012 and the two teams split the series in 2013. The Eagles won the last meeting between the two teams, 24-22, on Dec. 29, 2013. 
  • This is the second meeting between the Eagles and Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The Eagles won, 27-0, in 1989. 
  • All time, the Eagles have won all five games they have played on Thanksgiving. The combined score of those games is 111-34.
  • The Eagles have 10 touchdowns on defense or special teams this season, a new franchise record. The NFL record is 13.
  • Milestone Watch
    • Jeremy Maclin needs 20 yards for his first career 1,00-yard season. It would be the 23rd 1,000-yard season for a receiver in franchise history.
    • Darren Sproles needs 42 yards for the third-most punt return yards in a single-season in Eagles history. Sproles also needs one punt return touchdown to set a new single-season franchise record.
    • Connor Barwin needs 1.5 sacks to tie Reggie White for 10th most in a single-season in franchise history.

Injury Report

Eagles
Out

  • QB Nick Foles (collarbone)

Questionable

  • LB Emmanuel Acho (groin)

Probable

  • DE Brandon Bair (elbow)
  • CB Brandon Boykin (hamstring)
  • S Nate Allen (ankle)
  • TE Zach Ertz (oblique)
  • WR Jordan Matthews (knee)
  • K Cody Parkey (groin)
  • T Jason Peters (quad)

Cowboys
Out

  • DE Jack Crawford (thumb)
  • CB Andrew Patmon (knee)
  • LB Gregory Watson (hamstring)

Doubtful

  • S Jeffery Heath (thumb)

Probable

  • DE Tyrone Crawford (knee)
  • T Doug Free (foot)
  • DT Nicholas Hayden (shoulder)
  • LB Ronaldo McClain (knee)
  • DT Joshua Price-Brent (groin)
  • QB Tony Romo (back)
  • WR Terrance Williams (finger)

Where to Watch

TV: Fox (Broadcasters: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews)
Radio: 94 WIP (Merrill Reese, Mike Quick, Howard Eskin)
National Radio: Westwood One (Tom McCarthy, Tony Boselli, Scott Kaplan)

Kevin Durso is a contributor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.