1. Stopping Witten: The Eagles continue to have problems defending the tight end in the passing game. Opposing tight ends have 72 catches and 10 TDs vs. Eagles. Two of those 10 scores were by Jason Witten in Week 14. With inexperienced Stephen McGee expected to start for the Cowboys on Sunday, Witten likely will be his go-to receiver. Witten has four TD catches in the last thee games and has been targeted 23 times (18 catches) the last two weeks.
2. Eagles’ passing game: Kevin Kolb likely will be starting in place of banged-up Michael Vick and will be going against a Cowboys pass defense that has given up a league-high 32 touchdown passes. He needs to make hay. Opponents have a 65.5 completion percentage and 96.7 passer rating against the Cowboys.
3. Getting DeSean involved: Looking for something that the Eagles’ five losses all have in common? How about little or no production from Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson? Jackson missed one of those five losses (Tennessee). In the other four, he was targeted 35 times, but caught just 11 passes for 107 yards and no touchdowns. That’s the bad news. The good news: He had a career-high 210 receiving yards 3 weeks ago against the Cowboys.
4. Another mobile quarterback: With Jon Kitna nursing an abdominal injury, second-year quarterback Stephen McGee is expected to get his first NFL start Sunday. Like the Vikings’ Joe Webb, McGee can run, and the Eagles need to do a better job of keeping him in the pocket than they did Webb, who completed 17 of 26 passes against them and ran for a 9-yard touchdown.
5. Third-down defense: The Eagles have a lot of disturbing defensive numbers. Here’s a really big one: in their last two games, they’ve allowed opponents to convert 14 of 30 third-down opportunities. In those two games, opposing quarterbacks have completed 13 of 23 third-down passes for 179 yards and 12 – count ’em, 12 – first downs. Opponent third-down passer rating in last two games: 92.5. In first 13 games: 48.3.