Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) +10.5, 48.5 O/U at Dallas Cowboys (12-1) -10.5, Texas Stadium, Irving, 4.15pm EST Sunday
by The Crazy Snake of Predictem.com
With Dallas having already sealed the NFC East title for the first time since 1998, pride is the only thing left for the defending champions of the division and the former perennial winners of the crown. One suspects that it might be a while until the Eagles regain the number one mantle, such has been their slide and the overall dominance of their opposition for this game, the Dallas Cowboys.
Regardless of relative standings and records, Cowboys/Eagles games are always fiercely fought contests and this should be no different. Terrell Owens loves to stick it to his former team and did that in spades the last time these teams met at Lincoln Field in week 9, catching 10 receptions for 174 yards and one touchdown. Realistically, if TO has another game like that the Cowboys will do what they did to the Eagles in that game; embarrass them.
In the previous match up Brian Westbrook had 14 receptions to add to his 16 rushing carries for a combined total of over 150 yards, basically half of the Eagles’ offensive yards on the day. Much of those 14 receptions were check down passes due to heavy defensive line pressure and good downfield coverage on the part of the Dallas secondary. That is likely to be the flavor again here, with Demarcus Ware trying to round the corner on his way to Donovan McNabb and forcing the Eagle quarterback to lower his eyes and give up on the deep ball. By Dallas taking away much of the Eagle big play capability it will force the Eagles to go to higher percentage, lower return type plays and curtail their scoring potential.
At the same time, Dallas will try to recreate the down-field mismatches they forced in their 38-17 trouncing of the Eagles at the last meeting.Terrell Owens caught several of his receptions from the slot, something which worked well for Dallas in their win over Green Bay. Marion Barber had a big game, charging at the Eagles’ edges with power and purpose. Jason Witten played a nice little cameo and has been an increasing part of the Dallas offense of late. Add to that the mobility and elusiveness of Tony Romo and it equates to a long night again for the Eagles defense, which seems destined to have a real workout.
The current line on this game sees the Cowboys as whopping 10.5 favorites with most respected sportsbooks. When was the last time the Cowboys started 10 and a half point favorites against the Eagles? I wonder if they EVER have. I don’t have the numbers but I am sure it has been a long time, if at all. And looking at it, I think it’s probably fair enough too. I am not sure I would be running at it, but it certainly seems like a fair and reasonable number given the respective form and record of these two outfits. Though rivalry always plays a part in these games, only the most hardened and optimistic Eagles fan would see this as an egalitarian battle. It is one-sided on paper and could prove to be equally as one-sided in practice.
The Eagles played some excellent football in their last road trip, a 28-31 loss at Foxboro and will need to rediscover that form to challenge here. They have subsequently suffered two home losses and will be desperate to end their 3 game skid. This is very likely to be Donovan McNabb’s last battle with the Cowboys in an Eagles uniform, and I am sure he will want it to be memorable for all the right reasons. Hope springs eternal.
The Snake’s Bite: Dallas is coming off the narrowest of victories, a 28-27 last gasp win over Detroit. In the shadow of the playoffs they will want to discover some offensive bite. The Eagles don’t seem to have much going for them, even if they showed up wired. I am a fan of the Eagles’ spirit, but I think it may be found wanting here. Take the Cowboys to win and cover as they flex their offensive muscle on their home turf.