Game Preview: Cowboys @ Eagles

Cowboys (9-6) vs. Eagles (8-6-1)  Sunday, December 28, 3:15 PM CT on FOX

Week 17 Preview:

Playoffs Begin Now For Battle-Tested Cowboys

Forget the fact that it is only Week 17 of the regular season.  The playoffs begin now for the Dallas Cowboys.  A win against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday propels them to the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, while a loss eliminates the Cowboys, making it one of the most disappointing seasons in Dallas Cowboys hstory.

All the Cowboys need to do is win and they’re in, but Philadelphia needs losses by both the Chicago Bears against the Houston Texans and by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Oakland Raiders in addition to beating Dallas.  The Eagles should know whether or not they still have a shot at making the playoffs shortly before the game begins, which could help or hurt the Cowboys a little bit either way.  The Eagles would like nothing more than to ruin the Cowboys’ chances of getting in though, so it should be a battle no matter what.

The Cowboys will have to put constant pressure on Donovan McNabb and stop Brian Westbrook to have a chance to win the game.  Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Cowboys sacked Joe Flacco 5 times in the first half but none in the second.  They also limited Baltimore’s running game in the first half, unlinke in the second half when they allowed backto-back 82 and 77-yard touchdown runs to seal the game. 

DeMarcus Ware needs just 3 sacks to break the all-time sacks recordfor a single season.  He will line up against tackle Tra Thomas, who held him to just one sack when they faced one another back in Week 2.  It should be an intriguing matchup to watch.

Tony Romo’s back has been acting up on him ever since he took those shots against the Giants a couple of weeks ago.  Whether it is that, lingering effects of his broken pinky finger, or a combination of both is unknown.  It is obvious that he is not at 100% and has not thrown the all very accurately, missing some wide open receivers against Baltimore and making mistakes throwing the ball.  He cannot make these mistakes against the Eagles.  Jim Johnson knows Tony Romo very well, and will blitz at will if he senses a weakness in Romo.  Tony Romo has only had one game in which he did not turn the ball over all season long, and that was Week 15 against the Giants in a 20-8 win.

The final thing that the Cowboys need to do in order to ave a successful game is to limit the penalties. They cannot give the Eagles free first downs and back themselves up into 3rd and long situations taking unnecessary penalties.  They are the most penalized team in the league, committing 115 penalties for 911 yards. 

The bottom line is that the Cowboys just need to find a way to win this game and bring a win at all costs attitude out on the field with them.  This will be their last of the season if they lose, so it is time to lay it all on the line against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.