When the Cowboys last played the Eagles in Week 7 this year, the experts were predicting a shootout, and every one of the 11 experts we've regularly polled this season predicted an Eagles win. Turns out the Cowboys won 17-3 in a low-scoring affair.
As such, I can't escape a distinct feeling of dejá vu. The Eagles are once again favored by our panel of experts and everybody and their uncle expects a shootout in Dallas. We'll see about that.
Roger Staubach for one thinks the Cowboys can beat the Eagles:
I’m pulling for the Cowboys, and I think we’re going to beat Philadelphia. It would be a great win. The Eagles played so well last week against Chicago. The league is matchups, and we have to get a strong effort on the defense, stop (LeSean) McCoy. We’ll still have some offensive weapons. I think the world of Tony Romo so I hope he plays, but it sure doesn’t look that way right now."
Here's what our panel thinks will happen on Sunday afternoon:
Michael Smith, Pro Football Talk
|31-17||Even with Tony Romo I’d lean toward the Eagles to take this one, but with Romo’s back injury this looks to me like a game the Eagles take to clinch the NFC East.|
Vinny Iyer, Sporting News
|34-24||The Cowboys have been pretty much the same team since Week 1: inconsistent. Romo, go figure, has been the steadiest force. Otherwise, there’s been the unbalanced play-calling on offense (too few vs. too many Dez Bryant targets, two few vs. two many DeMarco Murray touches) and defense (big plays allowed vs. big takeaways made). While the Eagles are peaking, the Cowboys are middling. Kelly is a keeper; it’s looking more like Jason Garrett isn’t.|
|Sam Farmer, L.A. Times (10-5)||20-17||With Tony Romo injured, the pressure has shifted from the Cowboys to the Eagles. Chip Kelly’s offense is clicking, though, and Philadelphia’s defense has gone from horrible to average.|
Peter Schrager, Foxsports
|35-30||Chip Kelly's Eagles looked eerily similar to Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks last week. They're lights out on offense, they're a matchup nightmare, and the defense is keeping up with the pace. Guess what? I like Dallas on Sunday. No Sean Lee. Potentially no Tony Romo. But if we've learned anything this season, expect the unexpected. The Cowboys find a way, send the Eagles packing, and face the Saints in the wild-card round next week. Oh, baby.|
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
|27-23||With or without Tony Romo, the Cowboys don’t have the defense to once again hold Philly to three points — especially without Sean Lee available. Another year, another 8-8 finish, another loss in the de facto NFC East championship game.|
|The Other ESPN Guy (9-6)||37-27||It just feels like this Eagles team is ready to take a big step. Maybe they'll stumble, but I don't think so -- especially with Tony Romo out.|
|Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas (9-6)||28-24||This is strictly a gut feeling with no verifiable statistical evidence, but Kyle Orton pulls a Matt Cassel, DeMarco Murray runs like the Vikings' runners did, and somehow Dallas wins. Why not?|
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
|38-35||This is for the NFC East title. If Tony Romo can't play, can Kyle Orton get it done? Can the Eagles keep their offense rolling with Nick Foles? Winner goes to the playoffs. Loser goes home. I see a lot of points and some bad defense. When they met the first time, it was low scoring. This won't be. Without Romo, it's the Eagles who win it.|
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com
|34-28||Here's how this will unfold: The Cowboys' defense will play better, because they know they don't have Romo to bail them out, which will make Orton look better, which will suddenly make it Romo's fault, which will provoke Monte Kiffin to make an in-game adjustment, which will make Miles Austin pull a hamstring while watching ... and the Eagles will still win the NFC East.|
Greg Cote, Miami Herald
|34-27||"AAWWK!" trills the Upset Bird. "Winner take aaawwwk!" It isn’t the spiked egg nog talking. I am picking a Dallas upset sober and knowing full well that Tony Romo will probably miss the Sunday prime-time duel that will end the NFL regular season — and this losing team’s playoff hopes. Winner in, loser done. Backup Kyle Orton is seasoned (69 career starts) and Romo is 1-6 in elimination games, including 0-3 in finales with a division title on the line. Nick Foles struggled in teams’ first meeting, DeMarco Murray is hot-hot, and I’m counting on some vintage old America’s Team home magic.|
Many sites publish their picks without providing any specific commentary. Most of them like the Eagles for the win on Sunday:
|Pro Football Focus||3||5||.733 (88-32)|
|USA Today||2||5||.686 (72-33)|
|Dallas Morning News||1||7||.672 (82-40)|
|NFL Around The League||0||5||.622 (46-28)|
|Inside the NFL||0||2||.543 (19-16)|
|SB Nation||2||3||- -|
Overall, the Cowboys look like the underdogs Sunday, but division games have a funny way of making almost any prediction look awfully awkward in retrospect.
Do you think the Cowboys can pull off the upset?