NFC East Showdown: Preview & Prediction
By Guest Writer Nick Clarke:
The Philadelphia Eagles will travel to Dallas for the NFC East title game. The winner of the game will advance to the playoffs and the loser will start their offseason earlier than expected. The Cowboys lost the NFC East championship to the Giants in 2011 and to the Redskins in 2012, so experience is definitely on Dallas’ side. Though the Cowboys do have the upper hand in terms of experience, the Eagles look to be at least one step ahead of the Cowboys in every other facet of the game. The Cowboys certainly had a chance of keeping pace with Philly’s high octane offense with Tony Romo healthy. But as Romo’s health has become a major concern and could keep him out of the game, the Cowboys will either need Kyle Orton to play the game of his life or the Eagles’ offense to lay a goose egg, much like they did when these two teams met back in October.
Nick Foles, the NFL’s highest rated passer, should have no problem dissecting the NFL’s worst defense, especially if the Cowboys’ defensive play caller Sean Lee can’t play. The Eagles will look to feature LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s leading rusher, in the passing and rushing attack and attack the Cowboys’ defense with deep threat wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
The Cowboys still possess a ton of offensive talent to keep up with the Eagles, with mercurial superstars Dez Bryant, who is second in the league in receiving touchdowns, and DeMarco Murray, who leads all qualified running backs (minimum of 150 rushing attempts) in yards per attempt. The Cowboys are certainly unpredictable, but it’s very obvious without Romo they will need a Christmas miracle to extend their season.
Final Prediction (with Romo): The Cowboys won’t miss a beat on offense and Romo will have no trouble keeping up with Foles and the Eagles’ offense. The Cowboys’ defense will create a turnover late in the game, and Romo will have another opportunity to either play hero or live up to his reputation as a perpetual choker. This would be the perfect way for Romo to shake his choker reputation; play through a major injury and lead his team to the playoffs. I believe this is the year Romo finally does it, he will outplay Foles and flip the script on Dallas’ late season failures. Cowboys, 34-29.
Final Prediction (without Romo): The Cowboys will rely heavily on DeMarco Murray in Romo’s absence and will look to keep the Eagles’ offense on the sidelines by feeding Murray early and often. Kyle Orton will keep things a lot closer than everyone expects, but the Cowboys’ defense won’t make stops when it needs to and the Cowboys’ offense will eventually run out of steam. Eagles, 31-24.