Alas, we come to the bitter-sweet ending of an NFL regular season. The finality is real, a season either ends or continues, you know your fate. Sweet for the 12 teams that move on, bitter for the rest whose offseasons begin on Monday.
Only a handful of teams don't know their destiny yet, and for them this weekend is the culmination of August heat to December cold, and all the hard knocks that came in between. Training camp dreams played out over a 16-game schedule, playoff dreams played out in one weekend. A pox on revisionist history; cries of "we could've done this" or "we should've done that", fall on deaf ears. Nobody weeps for the losers, they just hand them a salary cap chart and say go to work. The only question asked is "Did you get in?" Come Sunday, we'll know.
The Dallas Cowboys once were masters of their own domain, but now rely on the kindness of others. Strange bedfellows indeed when a Cowboys fan must root for the Phildelphia Eagles. Come Sunday they will, and they'll root for them with gusto- along with the Atlanta Falcons - to help save the Cowboys. Save them from starting the offseason on Monday, and that's the cold hard reality of the situation.
But I'll wager one thing, if either Philly or Atlanta win, there is no way Dallas will lose to the St. Louis Rams. It's not going to happen. The St. Louis Rams are a bad football team.
RB Julius Jones will easily shred the Rams run defense. If Dallas can contain DE's Leonard Little and Anthony Hargrove, then QB Drew Bledsoe will slice up a poor Rams secondary. Rams RB Steven Jackson has missed practice this week and is downgraded to questionable. RB Marshall Faulk, who would start in his place, has been slowed by the flu this week and slowed by Father Time for his career.
The only phase of the game where the Rams are truly dangerous is passing, but even that has its flaws. The Rams have given up an ugly 44 sacks this year and they turn the ball over regularly, accumulating 24 INT's on the year.
There's not much preview needed for this game. If by Sunday night the Cowboys have a chance to make the playoffs with a win, you can book it, they'll get the job done.
The question becomes can Philly or Atlanta win? They can, and one of them will. Lucky for us it will be the early game, where a fired up Atlanta squad, playing at home and trying to grasp a winning season, will upset the Carolina Panthers.
When they ask us after Sunday "Did you get in?", we'll answer "yes we did, by the hair of our chinny chin chin."
Dallas 35 - St. Louis 20
Atlanta 23 - Carolina 20
Washington 17 - Philly 6