However, more is riding on this game with the Eagles’ second loss of the season after falling short to the 49ers, as it gives the Cowboys a pulse to claim the top seed in the NFC East.
One of the sore spots of the Eagles’ loss was their inability to stop the 49ers rushing attack, as San Francisco had 146 yards in 28 attempts and two rushing touchdowns.
The Cowboys’ Run Game Since Week 9
With the Cowboys’ run game taking steps forward in the last few weeks, it could be a viable weapon for them to attack the Eagles.
The last time the Cowboys and Eagles met in Week 9, the Cowboys had 71 rushing yards in 21 attempts.
Since that game, the Cowboys have had at least 100 rushing yards per game. Here are their stats since Week 10.
- Week 10 vs. the Giants: 168 rushing yards on 33 attempts
- Week 11 vs. the Panthers: 107 rushing yards on 27 attempts
- Week 12 vs. the Commanders: 100 rushing yards on 18 attempts
- Week 13 vs. the Seahawks: 136 rushing yards on 34 attempts
Where Brian Schottenheimer Has Seen Improvement in the Run Game
The Cowboys have found better ball distribution within the offense with the receiving game, which has opened up the rushing attack for Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle.
Cowboys offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer says the run game always takes the longest to get going for offenses, primarily because of the practice limitations in the form of a maximum of 14 padded practices in the NFL season.
Ultimately, the production trickles back to the cohesiveness from the offensive line as well, which has now played five games together this season.
Schottenheimer also pointed out that the Cowboys were without their starting offensive line during training camp, which didn’t allow the unit to form the continuity for the run game at the same pace as other teams.
The coach said the movement at the front level is also better than before.
But Schottenheimer also knows it’s a team effort involving the wide receivers and tight ends, especially in terms of the combination blocks, which he thinks has improved from the start of the season.
“I also think that the receivers don’t get enough credit,” said Schottenheimer, adding, “It’s an unselfishness of the entire group.”
He also mentioned the improvement in Pollard’s and Dowdle’s ability to finish runs.
“That’s very disheartening for the opponent to see it all kind of come together. So certainly areas we can improve with, but I’m very comfortable and confident right now with our combinations, how hard we’re running, and everybody’s involved,” said Schottenheimer.
Cowboys Run Game vs. the Eagles
So, can the Cowboys continue to use this momentum to find success against the Eagles? The short answer: Yes.
If Pollard and Dowdle can find a way to keep the team in front of the sticks and out of third-and-long situations, they can help the team win the battle in the time of possession as well.
Getting off to a quick start and avoiding three-and-outs will be vital in this game.
However, according to Inside Edge, the Cowboys have gone three-and-out on 11.3% of their drives in the second half this season, the second-best rate in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Eagles have forced three-and-outs on 9.4% of opponent drives in the second half this season, the third-worst figure in the NFL.
The yards after carry will be vital for this game, as the Cowboys need to fight for yardage to score touchdowns with the opportunities given.
According to Inside Edge, Pollard has broken 26 tackles this season, the second most of qualified running backs. But the Eagles have allowed just 23 broken tackles this season, the fourth fewest in the NFL.
This will be a vital part of Pollard’s game on Sunday, especially in the red zone. Pollard has scored a rushing touchdown in every game for the last three weeks.
As for Dowdle, the angry runner has only one touchdown of the season so far.
But he’s averaged 4.1 yards per carry and continues to show his physical run style, which could bode well for the Cowboys in this game.
The Cowboys’ ground attack has a tough matchup with the Eagles’ run defense on Sunday, which will be a true “measuring stick” for how the team can continue to produce in this aspect of their game for the rest of the season.
Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more!
Listen to the PFN Cowboys Podcast
Listen to the PFN Cowboys Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Cowboys Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Cowboys Podcast on our NFL YouTube channel.