PFF Preview: Eagles @ Cowboys, Week 13
After Thursday’s meeting at AT&T Stadium, either the Philadelphia Eagles (8-3) or the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) are certain to be thankful for one thing, sole possession of first place in the NFC East. If the Cowboys hope to earn their third consecutive win and fend off an Eagles team who aim to stay unbeaten within the division, they’ll need to control the line of scrimmage as they’ve continually done throughout the year.
Led by rookie Zach Martin, the Cowboys’ offensive line has impressed. Martin has particularly stood out in pass protection, earning a team-high grade of +9.1, which is also the second-best grade of all guards. Additionally, Martin has yet to allow a single sack, while only giving up two hits, five hurries, and seven total pressures, earning him a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) of 98.6, fourth among 79 guards who have played a minimum of 125 passing plays. Not only does Martin fend off defenders trying to bring Tony Romo down, he also leads the charge for DeMarco Murray on the ground — his run blocking grade of +6.4 is also a team-high. Of Murray’s 268 carries, 83 of them have come to one side of Martin or the other, the most of any Cowboys linemen.
As impressive as the Dallas’ O-line has been, the Eagles feature an impressive unit of their own. The Eagles own a cumulative run defense grade of +34.1 (seventh-best) and a pass rush grade of +39.0 (third-best). When stuffing the run, Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton have led the way, combining for a total of 45 tackles and 34 stops in the run game, earning them Run Stop Percentages of 9.1% and 6.5%, respectively. When getting after the quarterback, Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin and Trent Cole have been dominant, combining for a total of 25 sacks and 112 total pressures. Graham’s Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) of 17.8 ranks first among the 47 3-4 outside linebackers who have totaled a minimum of 118 passing plays. Barwin and Cole are not far behind, ranking fifth and sixth.
Darren Sproles – Leads all punt returners with a grade of +9.5 and his 6.4 yards per reception is tops among running backs .
Mark Sanchez – With 18 deep passing attempts (20+ yards) since Week 10, Sanchez ranks fourth. He’s completed seven of those for 194 yards and no scores while one was intercepted.
Fletcher Cox – Cox has generated 30 total pressures and 20 run stops. Among 3-4 DEs, only J.J. Watt, Calais Campbell, and Jerrell Casey can claim they’ve hit the same numbers.
Tony Romo – With a pass grade of +13.1, Romo ranks fifth among all quarterbacks and he carries an NFL passer rating of 121.3 when throwing in 2.6 seconds or more.
Dez Bryant – A league-high five interceptions have been thrown on passes Bryant’s way this year, but over the past three weeks there haven’t been any, and Bryant leads WRs in that span with both a 157.5 ‘WR Rating‘ and a Yards Per Route Run figure of 4.60.
Rolando McClain – With an overall grade of +12.2, McClain ranks fourth among all inside linebackers.
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