By Kevin McGuire

After a hard-fought victory over the previously undefeated Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles play their second NFC East game on Sunday night. The Eagles look to slow down the Dallas Cowboys, who are enjoying a youthful renaissance on offense while continuing to play well defensively. Whenever the Eagles and Cowboys get together, sparks fly, and that should be no different Sunday night in Texas.

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Cowboys Season Record: 5-1

The Dallas Cowboys sit on top of the NFC East heading into the Sunday night matchup with the Eagles. Since losing the season opener against the New York Giants, the Cowboys have been on a roll, despite not having Tony Romo on the field. During this five-game winning streak, the Cowboys have enjoyed three double-digit victories, including a 14-point victory at Green Bay and a 14-point win at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cowboys are also 1-1 in the NFC East with a win against Washington after losing to the Giants.

The Cowboys and Eagles split the regular season series last season. 

Cowboys on Offense

The Cowboys are running the football like they once did with Emmit Smith carrying the ball. With rookie Ezekiel Elliott running behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, it is easy to see why Dallas has enjoyed relying on their running game. The Cowboys have rushed for 161.2 yards per game this season, which has helped make up for an efficient, but not quite overpowering passing game. The Cowboys rank 19th in the NFL with 240.3 passing yards per game. Dallas has also shown an ability to score, with an average of 26.5 points scored per game through six games.

Dez Bryant (11 receptions, 150 yards, 1 TD) has not had the impact he expects to have, but he can still be dangerous. Cole Beasley enters the week leading the Cowboys in receiving yardage, with 390 yards and three touchdowns.

Cowboys on Defense

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Points may come at a premium for the Eagles this weekend. Dallas has held four straight opponents to fewer than 20 points in a game. The 17.8 ppg allowed ranks Dallas sixth in the NFL. Only the Giants (20 points) and Redskins (23 points) have managed to score 20 points or more on the Cowboys this season.

Dallas has not been successful bringing pressure up front as much as they have in years past. With just 11 sacks this season, the Cowboys have shown a need to improve up front. Maybe that changes this weekend against a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz. The Cowboys also have four interceptions, so they will hope Wentz will make some rookie mistakes, as he has been prone to do in recent weeks. Sean Lee remains a steady force on defense with 58 tackles, 36 of the solo variety.

Cowboys Players To Watch

QB Dak Prescott: Perhaps the most surprising development this season has been the steady play of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. The former Mississippi State star stepped in for an injured Tony Romo has made his case to remain the starter, even when Romo is healthy. Prescott has thrown just one interception this season and is completing 68.7 percent of his pass attempts.

RB Ezekiel Elliott: The other half of Dallas’ dynamic rookie duo, Elliott leads the NFL in rushing with 703 yards. The rookie from Ohio State leads the team with five touchdown runs and he has burst free for seven runs of at least 20 yards this season. He has run 37 times for a first down, too.

Outlook

On Sunday night, the NFL will get a good quality matchup featuring great defense and a trio of bright young stars for the NFL’s future. Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are among the top rookies in the league right now and could be squaring up for the first of many times in the NFC East.

The Eagles defense regained their edge this past week against Minnesota, but now they must take that level of play on the road to play a Cowboys offense charged to set the tone on the ground. Elliott may be young, but behind this Cowboys offensive line, the Dallas running game can take a toll on the Eagles if they cannot slow it down.

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The Eagles will also try to bring pressure to Prescott unlike any he has seen this season. The Cowboys have done a terrific job protecting Prescott and allowing him a chance to manage the offense. Look for Jim Schwartz to find a way to have his Eagles defense disrupt him and get him out of his comfort zone the way he has managed to avoid all season so far.