I heard this crazy rumor the other day. It was something like, the Cowboys have a season-defining game against their most hated division rival coming up this weekend. Wild, right?
Yes, the article's title is facetious. When Dallas faces off against the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday afternoon, they will have every opportunity to exorcise the demons that arose from a 34-7 shellacking that occurred at Lincoln Financial Field. The Cowboys have won five of seven games since then, but have been looked at more as pretenders than contenders after failing on a big stage. Now the Eagles arrive in town as a 'hot' 6-8 team, with an outside shot of returning to the perch they were placed upon in preseason; and the Cowboys have to defeat them.
Now, I know the playoff scenarios. Dallas can lose this game, beat the Giants and win the NFC East. Screw that. This Dallas team must defeat these Eagles. Period, point blank, end of discussion. I don't believe that what happened in the first Eagles games is a death sentence for our chances come the weekend.
All I know is that while the Eagles are an extremely talented team, the Cowboys have every motivational factor to perform at the highest level this coming Saturday. If they can, then (if necessary) follow it up with a road win in New York, I'll have the confidence that this team can be competitive in the NFC playoff bracket. I'll take my chances with a team that goes 8-2, once healthy, down the stretch. Will you?
On to the news of the day.
"Well, after what happened to us in Philadelphia, there's no confidence," Jones said after the Cowboys won at Tampa Bay on Saturday night. "That's not the word for me. I'm respectful.
"I used to when one of my classmates in grade school did what they did to us up there I walked around the other side of the school. I'm leery of them and we should be leery of them. It's going to be all we can do to really get out there at Cowboys Stadium and play."
Speaking of quarterbacks playing well, and good numbers, I bring you Tony Romo at the 75-game mark of his career.
Saturday night's 31-15 snoozer over the Bucs was the 75th regular season start of Tony Romo's Dallas career. It seems a good time to measure Romo against the great Cowboy quarterbacks of the past -- specifically the two Hall of Famers who preceded him in Dallas, Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. The first 75 starts of the Cowboy Three's careers, along with the productivity in those 75 regular season games:
Player W-L TD Int Roger Staubach 57-18 86 64 Troy Aikman 44-31 78 70 Tony Romo 47-28 144 68
In his last seven games, Romo has six interception-free games. In that span, he's thrown 18 touchdowns with two picks, and Jerry Jones said after the game -- and he's right -- that he wants to make the playoffs so badly this year in part because when you've got a hot quarterback, you want to get into the postseason because you think all things are possible when your most important player is playing his best.
"What’s the ideal number?" Garrett said, repeating a question he’s often asked about Jones’ touches. "You have to play the game, and I thought that was the right thing for our football team to do and each of those guys handled that situation well."
Jones has had 25 touches in a game only once in his four-year career. That occurred when he had 22 carries for 83 yards and three catches for 8 yards in last year’s overtime win over the Colts.
Andy Reid has lost only once to the Cowboys in December in seven games as Philadelphia's head coach. That came in 1999, his first year. Since then the Eagles’ six victories have been by an average margin of 17 points. Reid has a 37-15 record in December as a head coach.
But the calendar means nothing, as Jason Garrett has reminded us, so let's point out the fact that the Cowboys have beat the Eagles in their last two rematches. They shut out Philadelphia, 24-0, in 2009 and won at Lincoln Financial Field last season, 14-13, in January regular-season games.
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Expected Points (EP) is ANS' way of valuing each individual play based on down, distance, field position and game situation. Expected Points Added (EPA) is the measure of each plays success/failure. For a more thorough definition, go here.