3 things to watch for as rested Eagles face short-handed Cowboys
The Eagles will have a distinct health advantage over the Cowboys when the two face off on Sunday Night football this week.
It seems like it's been longer than two weeks since we saw the Eagles pummel the Broncos to jump to 8-1 and the NFL's best record.
Since that time, the Eagles have become the talk of sportsradio not only in Philadelphia but across the country. Are they shoe-ins for the No. 1 seed in the NFC? Is Carson Wentz the NFL's MVP? Did their trade for Jay Ajayi put them over the top?
Finally, some actual football will be played as the Eagles return from their bye week to face the Cowboys, in Dallas on Sunday Night Football. Here are three storylines we are thinking about as the 8:30 p.m. kickoff approaches on NBC:
A healthy roster
The Eagles' injury report is extremely short, and for the first time all season everyone on the roster will more or less be ready to play Sunday. Of course, staples Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks are still out for the season on the injured reserve, but the NFL's best tight end Zach Ertz and the Eagles top young cornerback Ronald Darby are each expected to suit up in Week 11. That will certainly help.
"He's trending the right way," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said of Darby, who hurt his ankle in Week 1. The status of both players won't be confirmed until gameday.
A healthy ego?
The Eagles have the second best odds to win the Super Bowl at 5-2 (behind the Patriots). They are off to their best start since their last trip to the Super Bowl in 2004, and are in the top 5 in nearly every important measurable category for success in the NFL. The city is starting to believe the team could be special. How is the team holding up?
"My job is to make sure that we stay focused and stay grounded," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. "We've just got to continue to stay with the one-game mentality. That's been a good formula for us this season. We can't get looking down the road and upcoming opponents and scenarios. That's for the media to speculate on and talk about."
Things couldn't have worked out any better for Philadelphia, ahead of their first tilt against the Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott — arguably one of the NFL's three best running backs — was finally forced to start serving his six-game suspension last week and will not be playing Sunday. Dallas' leader on defense, linebacker Sean Lee will not be playing either as he needs a few weeks to recooperate from a hamstring injury. Star tackle Tyron Smith is working his way back, but a big chance exists Dak Prescott will be without one of the best in the game yet again. And to make things even worse, wide receiver Dez Bryant has also not been practicing.
All of this makes the situation dire for the 5-4 Cowboys, fighting and clawing to stay in playoff contention. But it still won't be easy for the Eagles. At least that's what Schwartz is telling his defense.
"We saw that in the last game last year," the coach said. "We didn't see Elliott and we didn't see Tyron Smith. So, I mean, certainly not worse to play them without those guys."