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'Monday Night Football' preview: What to watch for in Eagles-Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles
2021 · 1-1-0
Dallas Cowboys
2021 · 1-1-0

8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN) | AT&T Stadium

A bitter NFC East rivalry takes center stage to conclude Week 3.

For the 121st time, the Philadephia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys will clash, but there’s a bit of a different feel to this one.

Second-season quarterback Jalen Hurts and rookie head coach Nick Sirianni lead the Eagles (1-1) into the road matchup with the Cowboys (1-1), who are led offensively by Dak Prescott on his comeback tour and defensively Micah Parsons amid his dynamic rookie campaign.

Sirianni added a bit to the buildup by donning a “Beat Dallas” shirt during the leadup to the game and each team is looking to move forward despite missing monumental contributors (for the Eagles, Brandon Brooks and Brandon Graham; for the Cowboys, Demarcus Lawrence and La’el Collins).

It’s an age-old rivalry that Dallas leads 67-53, but features plenty of fresh faces. All eyes are on the Lone Star State to wrap up Week 3.

Here are four things to watch for Monday night when the Cowboys host the Eagles:

1) Jalen vs. Dak, round 1

When Jalen Hurts was introducing himself to the NFL world in 2020, Dak Prescott was on the mend from a broken ankle. Thus, Monday will be the first matchup between the quarterbacks. Perhaps it's the first of many in what could be a generational rivalry for the 23-year-old Eagles signal-caller and the 28-year-old Cowboys gunslinger. For now, it's a Week 3 showdown with each QB seeking to maintain impressive starts to the season. Prescott's averaging 320 yards passing per game so far and by early accounts appears every bit the same QB he was prior to his injury. However, Hurts, at least statistically, is off to a better beginning, with a 108.0 passer rating, four total touchdowns and no giveaways to his Cowboys counterpart's 99.1 rating, three total TDs and two turnovers. Hurts has also rushed for 144 yards (second among QBs behind Lamar Jackson) to lead the NFL's No. 2 rushing attack. In an age-old NFC East rivalry, a fresh matchup is upon the marquee.

2) Class of 2020 first-round WRs clash

In a much-ballyhooed 2020 NFL Draft first-round class of wide receivers, CeeDee Lamb found success as a rookie, while Jalen Reagor struggled for much of the campaign. Lamb has been stellar so far this season, while Reagor notched a TD in Week 1 but went cold in Week 2. Lamb and teammate Amari Cooper command plenty of notoriety as being part of a Cowboys WR corps viewed as one of the elite in the league. However, if the Eagles want to keep pace in the NFC East now and beyond, Reagor and 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith will be called on to emerge as a formidable pairing, as well. Like Reagor, Smith has his struggles in Week 2 against the 49ers, but against a Dallas defense ranked 31st against the pass, this portends to be a get-right game for the Eagles WR tandem. Cooper and Lamb would seem to have a tougher go facing an Eagles defense ranked third versus the pass. It might be a prime time for Reagor and Smith to show there's another dynamic receiving duo in the East.

3) Will Micah’s marvelous start continue?

Since his preseason debut in the Hall of Fame Game, Micah Parsons has commanded notice and admiration. Under the spotlight that comes with playing for the Cowboys, Parsons has lived up to the hype and has gone from a spectacular sideline-to-sideline linebacker to a phenomenal pass rusher. With Demarcus Lawrence injured, Parsons filled in and stepped up to the tune of two tackles, a sack and four QB hits. Parsons has become a must-watch and now he’ll have Randy Gregory back opposite him. Parsons has dazzled every step of the way in his rookie campaign and he’ll aim to do so again in his Monday night debut.

4) Can Hargrave maintain stellar play?

The loss of Brandon Graham for the season shouldn’t be downplayed. It’s a huge blow for the Eagles on the field and in the locker room. One question in the aftermath will be how much it will impact the so-far sensational play of Javon Hargrave, and if Hargrave’s play will suffer or if he will step up even more so. Hargrave boasts an 89.9 Pro Football Focus grade that’s third among NFL defensive tackles, with his two sacks, four QB hits and four tackles for loss all leading Philly. For the Eagles to stay afloat on Monday and beyond, the six-year vet Hargrave will need to keep up his excellent play. 

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