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Semi-Coherent Eagles vs. Cowboys Preview: The One Where They Face the Cowboys for First Place

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Eagles!  Cowboys!  First place in the NFC East is on the line!

After dispatching two winless teams, the Eagles return home to face an opponent who has actually recorded a victory this season.  That opponent is the Dallas Cowboys, which means that the game has a good chance of being a sellout, and the home crowd might be a little fired up.

What’s New with the Cowboys?

The Cowboys success is mostly due to their offense.  They’ve averaged over 30 points a game (Second highest in the NFL), and considering they’re only 13th in offensive yards per game, that shows that they’ve been taking advantage of their scoring opportunities.  At first, this would seem like a bad match for an Eagles defense that still strives to be mediocre.  But there are some reasons to believe that this won’t be a massacre.

The Cowboys are dealing with some injuries.  Receiver Miles Austin has been nursing a hamstring strain, while running back DeMarco Murray has a knee issue.  Neither man has been officially been ruled out for Sunday, but there’s a good chance that even if they do take the field, they won’t be at full strength.

The Cowboys offense has also been much less effective on the road.  In their two road games, they’ve only averaged 18.5 points in losses to the Chiefs and Chargers. While the loss to the Chiefs can be explained away by Kansas City’s excellent defense, the Chargers defense is considerably less renowned.

The Last Time They Met

When NBC scheduled the Eagles for Sunday Night Football, they expected to get Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and the high-powered Eagles offense.  What they got was Nick Foles, Bryce Brown, and a surprisingly feisty performance by an outmatched Eagles team.

The game was close until a Brown fumble in the fourth quarter led to a Cowboys touchdown. The Eagles made a late charge thanks to a kickoff return touchdown by Damaris Johnson (No, that is not a typo), but were unable to complete the comeback.

That game featured a typical 2012 Foles performance. He did some things that made you think he’ll be a successful quarterback, but he also had some plays where he looked like a rookie playing behind an injury-devestated offensive line.

In attempt to keep myself interested, I had written a real-time recap of the game.  If you’d like to re-live those good times, feel free to check it out here:

Recap of Eagles vs. Cowboys

Featured Cowboys Player: Tony Romo

Is there a more polarizing player in the NFL than Tony Romo?  (Maybe Eli Manning…but it’s close.)

Most pundits can’t decide if Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the league or an overrated loser.  Has he simply had the misfortune to play on less than stellar teams?  Or is Romo the reason why some talented Cowboys teams have fallen short of expectations?

Even Romo’s supposed strengths are polarizing.  He has shown an ability to keep plays alive by escaping from pressure, but some argue that his refusal to give up on a play causes him to make crucial mistakes, especially at the ends of games.

As an Eagles fan, it’s hard to know what to think of Romo.  He’s had some excellent games against the Eagles, but he’s also delivered some horrid performances.  For a good example of this, look at the teams’ two matchups in the 2008 season.  In the first game, Romo played well and led the Cowboys to a 41-37 victory.  But in the last game of the season, with a playoff berth on the line, Romo (as well as pretty much every other player on the team) played horribly, resulting in a 44-6 Eagles win.

When he plays the Eagles, you can usually tell by the end of the first quarter which version of Romo you’re going to get.  If he looks shaky early, then there’s a good chance the defense will have some interceptions coming their way.  But if he looks sharp right off the bat…you’d better hope that the offense is up to the task.

Key Eagles Storyline

The answer to “Who’s going to be the quarterback?” was answered definitively by Michael Vick and Nick Foles at their joint press conference.  Foles will be the starter for at least one more week, and apparently, that’s just dandy with Vick.  Both men are doing their best to let everyone know that they’re really good friends and the growing competition has not caused any animosity.

Since that’s been resolved, the key question becomes: Can the Eagles win a game at home?  The last time they did so was a 19-17 win over the Giants.  (That win put them at 3-1 and seemingly in line for a successful season)  Since then, they’ve lost eight straight at the Linc.

If anyone still doubted it, this should be proof that (aside from a few notable exceptions like Seattle) home field advantage is dead in the NFL.

Chappelle’s Show Skit that Relates to this Week’s Game

The Cowboys don’t seem to be quite themselves when they’re away from home.  They probably feel similar to the men on Trading Spouses. (As always, use caution when watching these videos)

Trading Spouses

In hindsight, this skit is made funnier by the fact that this concept was actually made into a real show a few years later.

The Week in Andy

After 13 years together, many Eagles fans are feeling some Andy Reid withdrawal.  I’ve decided to help them out by providing a weekly look at what Big Red is up to in Kansas City.

The scene: Andy Reid is reviewing game tape when General manager John Dorsey enters his office.

 

Image Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Dorsey: Whew, that was a close one last week, but we pulled it out!

Reid: We sure did.

Dorsey: And did you see the news?  We set a world record!

Reid: For what?

Dorsey: On Sunday, Arrowhead Stadium was the loudest stadium in recorded history.

Reid: Wow.

Dorsey: How does that affect you guys as coaches?

Reid: What do you mean?

Dorsey: Well obviously, it was disruptive to the Raiders’ offense.  But is it hard to communicate on the sidelines when you can barely hear each other?

Reid: Oh, I don’t worry about all of that.

Dorsey: Do you have to shout at each other?

Reid: No.

Dorsey: Hand signals?

Reid: No.

Dorsey: Well then how do you communicate with the other coaches and the players?

Reid: I don’t.

Dorsey: You…don’t?

Reid: No.  I gave them the game plan beforehand.  What else is there to talk about?

Dorsey: What about if you have to change the play?

Reid: Why would I do that?  Like I said, I gave everyone the game plan.

Dorsey: But what happens if the offense is struggling and you need to make adjustments?

Reid: I don’t follow.  Why would I make adjustments in the game?  That’s what the game plan is for.

Dorsey: Oh, I see…Well, anyway, we’re 6-0!  Go Chiefs, right?

Reid: Go Chiefs.

Tweet of Importance

In other words, it’s been awhile since the Eagles won at the Linc.

Final Take and Prediction

There are a lot of questions entering this game.

Are the Eagles good, or have they just taken advantage of bad teams?  Are the Cowboys capable of scoring on the road?  Can Foles continue to play well?  Will we see the “good” Romo or the “bad” Romo? Will the Eagles ever win another game at home?

If the Cowboys were at full strength, I think this game might play out differently.  But they are not, so sole possession of first place will soon belong to the Eagles.

Eagles 34 – Cowboys 28

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Tags: Andy Reid Dallas Cowboys Philadelphia Eagles Tony Romo

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