The Dallas Cowboys hope to keep their playoff hopes alive, starting on Sunday Night Football against the Eagles. The Cowboys need to win this and most of their 5 remaining to qualify for the postseason. The last time these two played, Morris Claiborne had the worst day of his young career, Micheal Vick left with a consussion, Nick Foles got his first action, Brandon Carr had his first pick as a Cowboy, Harris completely solidified his job as a punt returner, and Dez Bryant began a 3 week superstar span which he hopes to continue in week 13. Read on to see my predictions on this game.
Morris Claiborne vs Jeremy Maclin/Jason Avant: Morris Claiborne's first game against the Eagles was not one to remember. The young star was embarrassed on the first drive when Riley Cooper took a one handed catch over him to make a score on the first drive. Following that, Claiborne was called for two offisides penalties, two holding penalties, and a flag for pass interference. It was sick. This time, he hopes to make up for that. This is more of a personal battle than one that will really impact the game: this is Mo's chance to show the Eagles receivers that he is better than his previous performance. Claiborne has stated he is ready, and I fully expect him to continue his great rookie campaign. Avant and/or Maclin will have a tough day against Claiborne in a matchup Claiborne dominates all night.
Brandon Carr vs Jeremy Maclin/Jason Avant: This matchup will be very important, as Nick Foles will look for his number one receiver alot, and just throw it at him every time he has no other opening. Carr has had a couple bad games this year, but has played very well most of the year. Expect him to continue is performance as well, giving Foles and the Eagles passing game something to really think about.
Dez Bryant vs Rodgers-Cromartie: Dez has blossomed and become the star he was drafted to be these past 3 weeks. After a slow start to the season, he has absolutely blown up, recording 58 catches in the last 9 games. Look for him to continue that against the Eagles, where it all began.
Eagles Game Plan "Pray. Hope for a miracle. Maybe a key Cowboy gets injured? If so, take advantage. But mostly, hope for a freak of nature to occur that might give us a window to win. That's our game plan. Pray for the supernatural to help us here." This will be Andy Reid's pregame speech.
Cowboys Game Plan The Cowboys need to go on a run that re-starts in week 13. The Cowboys simply have to execute: nobody needs a big day, just average, which will be good enough to beat the Eagles.
Quarter by Quarter
Q1 I have a feeling the Cowboys will take the opening kickoff. The offense will frustrate again, as they run a few plays before punting it away. The only thing that comes out of this drive is that we see Murray again for the first time since week 5. The Eagles play decently, relying on the run to slowly make progress against a very thin linebacker unit. Everntually, Foles begins to air it out, trying to find the end zone. It works against the Eagles, and they come off with just a field goal, but take the games first lead, 0-3. The Cowboys are back on the field, looking for better results. They get just that, as a couple big passes from Romo take them into the redzone. After 2 stops, the Cowboys face 3rd down again. This time, the redzone offense delivers, as Romo finds Austin for a touchdown and nab the lead 7-3. The Eagles come back on the field. Nick Foles takes his first sack of the game, and the Eagles punt. The Cowboys also go 3 and out before punting again.
Q2 The Eagles start off this drive hot. They get beyond the the Dallas 50, then Dallas makes another play, as Foles throws a pick to Morris Claiborne. Claiborne returns into the Eagles territory. Romo marches down the field and get into a goal line situation. Then, Murray takes it into the endzone and the Cowboys extend their lead 14-3. The Eagles and Cowboys then exchange a few punts, before Philly makes a nice run inside the Dallas 30 towards the end of the half. A sack on Foles forces Philly to use their last timeout and Philly takes a field goal right before halftime. The second quarter ends with Dallas playing a decent game so far, leading 14-6.
Q3 The Eagles take the second half kickoff, and get a decent return. Foles leads a very strong drive, converting on third downs repeatedly, before he finds a blown coverage inside the 20 yard line which goes for a Philly TD. Philly narrows the game down to 14-13. The Cowboys have some heat on their back, but Romo handles it well on the ensuing drive. Dez breaks out another big play, and the Cowboys knock down another field goal to make it 17-13. Nick Foles then comes out, and screws up immediately. He is sacked by DeMarcus Ware and loses the football, recovered by Anthony Spencer inside the Philly 40. Romo finds Austin for a first down, before launching it to Dez for TD. Dallas now has a 24-13 lead. Foles comes back out and takes Philly down to another field goal. Romo come on and the Dallas offense punts the ball away, taking it to the fourth, where the Cowboys lead 24-16.
Q4 Foles gets his team to midfield before trying to find his receiver to cross the fifty. However, Carr makes a quick cut to jump in front of the ball and picks Foles off for the second time this season. He gets a long return, setting Dallas up in the redzone. On third and short from the goal line, Murray pounds the ball in to take a commanding 31-16 lead. Foles comes back on, attempting to start a comeback against Dallas. The Eagles do get down the field, but can't convert on a field goal. Dallas takes the ball down, narrowing the clock to six minutes before knocking on another field goal. The Eagles are hoping for that miracle to happen real soon, but it doesn't. Foles gets his team into field goal range, and knocks down the easy 3, to make is 34-19. Romo comes back on the field, looking to close out the game. Murray converts for a couple first downs, before Dallas is finally stopped and punts the ball, leaving just a few seconds on the clock. Foles takes useless deep shots, before it is picked off deep by Sensabaugh on the last play, just to pad his stats. Dallas leaves the first of a 5 game make-it-or-break-it span with a solid win over Philly.
Final Score: Dallas 34, Eagles 19
Romo: 28/40, 350 yards, 2 TD
Austin: 4 rec, 50 yards, TD
Bryant: 9 rec, 120 yards, TD
Witten: 9 rec, 100 yards
Beasley/Harris: 3 rec, 20 yards
Ware: 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 Forced Fumble
Spencer: 1 sack, 1 Fumble Recovery
Claiborne: 2 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 INT
Carr: 5 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 INT
Sensabaugh: 4 tackles, 1 INT
Murray: 20 carries, 120 yards, 2 TD, 3 rec, 30 yards
Foles: 18/35, 180 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
McCoy: 18 carries, 70 yards
Maclin: 3 rec, 30 yards
Avant: 4 rec, 50 yards
Celek: 6 rec, 80 yards, TD
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