Eagles-Cowboys: Talking With The Enemy
At FanSided, we have developed a weekly habit. Before our favorite team’s game, we sit down and exchange questions with writers that cover the opposion. The Philadelphia Eagles play in Dallas against the Cowboys tomorrow. We asked Steven Mullenax, the editor of The Landry Hat, five questions about the big game and these are the answers we got back.
1. The Eagles have held opposing running backs in check so far. Do you think the Cowboys’ offensive line can handle the Eagles’ front and set DeMarco Murray free?
SM: Sure. The Cowboys have ran the ball successfully against several higher ranked rushing defenses this season. The Arizona Cardinals (3rd), Seattle Seahawks (6th), San Francisco 49ers (7th), and the Washington Redskins (9th) are all ranked higher than the Eagles (16th). Even the Cowboys suspect rushing defense has allowed less rushing yards (1,179) than Philadelphia (1,199). The Birds offensive style often skews those numbers, but I still think Dallas will have similar success running the ball against them.
2. Tony Romo has been missing one practice session every week to stay fresh and rest his back. The Cowboys have to play on Thursday after playing against the Giants in New York on Sunday Night. Can this affect Romo’s performance negatively?
SM: Time is the biggest concern going into Thursday’s game for the Cowboys. Although they put up a confident front, both the preparation and stamina of their players will be tested like never before. I’d expect a lot of late game cramping and injuries in this one. As far as Romo is concerned, it really depends on the success of the running game. If the Cowboys can control the clock, keep their defense off the field and take the responsibility of winning the game off of Romo’s shoulders by running the ball; then they have an excellent chance of coming out of this important NFC East matchup with a victory. If our 34-year old quarterback has to scramble around too much to make plays, it could be an issue.
3. The Cowboys defense started strong, but it has regressed recently. Which version shows up against Philadelphia?
SM: Again, the lack of rest is an issue here. But I’d expect a better performance then we saw last week as defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was extremely unhappy with the effort on Sunday night. I’m sure his profanity laced tirades during film sessions and this week’s practices will be enough of a motivation for the defense to put their best foot forward this week. But also consider the environment. It’s not going to take much for both teams to be motivated to play well on Thanksgiving.
4. How do you think the Jason Garrett and the Cowboys approach the game?
SM: Run the ball. It’s been this year’s winning philosophy. The Cowboys have been allowing their big offensive line to control the game on both sides of the ball. And now that the line is healthier than they’ve been in awhile, expect the coaching staff to try and win the game with DeMarco Murray. Then they’ll ask Romo to make two or three big plays to help keep scoring drives alive. But the real key might be to keep this Dallas defense as fresh as possible as they face this unusual offensive style.
5. Please give us your winner and score prediction.
SM: The Dallas Cowboys faces their biggest challenge this week. And it’s not necessarily the Philadelphia Eagles. But again, time. Or lack thereof. With a quick turnaround from Sunday night to Thursday afternoon, the Cowboys’ stamina will be tested like never before this season. And the fact the Eagles’ offense plays at a breakneck pace only exacerbates the difficult situation.Still, these Cowboys’ are surprisingly resilient. And it would be unwise for anyone to question their mental toughness at this point. Riding high off a comeback victory over the New York Giants, Dallas will have an added boost of confidence going into the Thanksgiving matchup.But the best points of reference are last season. The Cowboys dominated the Eagles at home last year 17-3. But Philly got their revenge in the final game of the season, beating a Romo-less Dallas team at home 24-22 and taking the NFC East crown. With their quarterback…well, back, I believe the Cowboys will have their revenge on Thanksgiving over Philadelphia.Final Score: Dallas Cowboys 38, Philadelphia Eagles 28.