Much has been made of this afternoon's matchup between the Cowboys and Eagles serving as a pseudo-elimination game. Sure, it makes for a good headline: "Popular Teams Put Everything on the Line in Week 10!" The reality, though, is that a sixth loss won't eliminate either team. The only thing a sixth loss will do for the Cowboys or Eagles is prevent them from winning 11 games. In fact, no team in the NFL, not even the Falcons, has guaranteed either a winning or losing record. The Cowboys can still finish anywhere between 3-13 and 11-5. And while "Any Given Sunday" rarely plays out into "Every Given Sunday," long winning streaks do happen in the NFL, and they happen every year.
But how about the Cowboys? Dallas has played the kind of up-and-down football that makes it hard to expect a streak of any kind. At the same time, if you look at some of the last-second finishes that have wound up in the loss column, it doesn't seem all too impossible for the winds to change and give the Cowboys 3- or 4-game stretches of success. So while 11-5 is highly improbable, 10-6 is still in play. It's nice to think that the Cowboys' luck will change, but there's really no reason why it must.
The Eagles, it seems, have been on the opposite side of some of these close affairs, winning games in spite of themselves, before melting down into the quarterback-and-coaching staff controversy that we visit today. Their 4-game losing streak straddles their bye-week (the first post-bye loss by an Andy Reid-led team in over a decade) and there isn't a single 'get-well game' left on their schedule. Unless the Cowboys lie down and die the way they did last season against the Eagles, there isn't a game in their future that you can circle as a turn-around point. They've beaten the Giants already, but they don't see them again until week 17, hardly the time to right a sinking ship.
Back to the Cowboys, the hostile road environment may work in their favor. Tony Romo has been playing 'Tale of Two Seasons,' posting a 100 QB Rating (68.4%, 8TD, 3INT) on the road, and a dismal 60.7 (63.9%, 2TD, 10INT) at home. While the rest of the league strives to shine on the grand stage at Cowboys Stadium, the Cowboys as a whole seem to get lost in the lights. Thus Lincoln Financial Field may serve as a refuge for these Cowboys - especially considering that it's too warm for snowballs, and, after Sandy, batteries are in short supply in the northeast.
Will the season be over for either of these teams with a loss today? No. And the big thing missing from this, preventing it from being a real "elimination" game as it's billed, is that the winner has anything but smooth sailing for the rest of the season. We're not playing for a playoff berth - we're playing to get closer to .500. I think we'll win this one. But if the Cowboys lose, I'll have to start working on my draft simulation earlier than expected.
Finally, I'd like to wish a happy belated birthday to my fellow Marines, and a happy veteran's day to the rest of you!