Andy Reid has never lost an opening round playoff game. The Cowboys haven’t won a postseason contest since the 1996 season. Something’s gotta give.
In two wins over our beloved Birds, the ‘Boys have played smart football. Let me write that again, “smart.” The best way to beat an up the field blitzing defense is with three-step drops and delayed draws. Thus far, Sean McDermott and his charges haven’t had any answers.
Their downfall really began when Miles Austin schooled Sheldon Brown on a double move for a 49-yard touchdown back in week 9. To avoid a repeat, McDermott played scared, in my opinion, and schemed to prevent the big play over the top during last week’s game. In other words, he called off the dogs and utilized a dreaded read-and-react type alignment. Ugh.
This completely backfired and Romo and Witten and Austin and Crayton and Barber and Jones stomped a mudhole in the defense all night long. So, how do you get pressure on three-step drops? One way is to play tight bump and run coverage on the receivers. Try to steer them off their routes, which will cause Romo to have to hold the ball longer than he wants. Then maybe the pass rush can at the very least force him to throw before he’s ready.
For this to work, the front four must beat blocks and blow up running plays. Allowing the ‘Boys to establish a ground attack early will spell disaster. Bunk, Patterson and the rest must control the line of scrimmage to stop Dallas from sustaining drives. If they give up 5-7 yards on first downs again, this one will be over quick.
On offense, it’s pretty damn simple. McNabb had time last week to set up and throw, but he was off target and his receivers didn’t help with six drops. He must connect and they must catch the fu**ing ball. If the defense does its job and keeps the score close, the running game can become a weapon. Westy, Weaver and Shady all have the ability to bust a long one. However, they need to get the ball for this to happen.
From top to bottom, I think the Cowboys have the better team. They’ve shown that in the previous two meetings. The Eagles have a tendency to play dumb. When they do, they lose. I think Reid will have his guys ready to ball. A critical turnover at some point will be the deciding factor.
Eagles 20, Cowboys 17