Eagles-Cowboys Preview

The Dallas Cowboys have complete control of their path to

another NFC East title, and they might be even closer by

kickoff.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ playoff fate could be determined then,

too.

The Cowboys may have a chance to clinch the division crown when

they host the surging Eagles on Saturday.

Dallas (8-6) leads the second-place New York Giants by one game

and is two in front of the third-place Eagles (6-8) heading into

the final two weeks of the regular season.

Only one of those teams will reach the playoffs, and the Cowboys

could clinch that spot Saturday with a win combined with a Giants’

loss to the New York Jets earlier in the day.

That matchup also has serious implications for Philadelphia,

which also needs a Jets victory to remain alive in the

division.

For the Eagles to repeat as East champions, they must beat the

Cowboys and Washington at home on Jan. 1. They need the Giants to

lose to the Jets and then beat Dallas in their last game.

That would leave all three teams at 8-8, and Philadelphia would

own the tiebreaker based on a superior divisional record.

“I’m a big Jets fan this week,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

“You control what you control. You have to play the game whether

that team wins or loses.”

The Eagles’ playoff hopes remained alive after a 45-19 romp over

the Jets on Sunday, their second straight victory.

“It feels good that we are still alive,” said tight end Brent

Celek, who had a career-high 156 yards and one touchdown. “That is

all you can ask for at this point. We just have to play together as

a team and go up there, fight and beat Dallas.”

The Cowboys should be eager for revenge after losing 34-7 at

Philadelphia in Week 8. That was just their second loss in the last

six meetings in the series since the Eagles kept them out of the

playoffs with a 44-6 win in Week 17 of 2008.

“We’ve got to get the wins. We’ve got to get in,” Cowboys owner

Jerry Jones said. “Best way to do it is win this thing.”

Dallas regained some momentum by beating Tampa Bay 31-15 last

Saturday after blowing fourth-quarter leads in consecutive

games.

“We just can’t let up,” receiver Dez Bryant said. “We know where

we want to go and it don’t matter who comes in here, we’re going to

keep the same intensity and just play hard and hopefully we can win

out. … We just got to keep focusing and keep playing hard.”

Tony Romo is doing his part to get Dallas into the postseason,

completing 69.9 percent of his passes for 869 yards with eight

touchdowns, no interceptions and a 121.4 passer rating over the

last three games.

Romo has thrown 18 touchdown passes and just two picks in the

past seven contests since struggling with a season-low 66.7 rating

against the Eagles. He finished with 203 yards on 18-of-35 passing

with one touchdown and one INT in that defeat.

Romo has 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while going 5-4 as a

starter against Philadelphia.

The onus may again be on Romo and the passing game since Dallas

is dealing with a rash of injuries to its backfield, with Felix

Jones’ hamstring tightness the latest issue.

Jones is listed as questionable after running for more than 100

yards each of the past two weeks. He may be joining rookie running

backs DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner on the sidelines, leaving

the Cowboys with 12-year veteran Sammy Morris and practice squad

member Chauncey Washington.

Morris made his season debut with 12 carries for 53 yards

against the Buccaneers, and is expected to start if Jones can’t

play.

“Sammy is the most logical choice … and we have another young

back on our practice roster (Washington), so he’ll get a chance to

do some of that too,” coach Jason Garrett said.

Dallas’ defense is looking to build on its best performance of

the season, holding Tampa Bay to 190 total yards.

The unit is likely to be tested much more thoroughly by LeSean

McCoy, who ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries

last week.

He’s scored eight TDs in the past four games, giving him 20

total scores – an Eagles single-season record. Two of those came

when McCoy ran for a career-high 185 yards in the October rout of

the Cowboys.

“It tells you I’m a pretty good back and I have an outstanding

offensive line,” said McCoy, who had 149 yards on 16 carries in a

30-27 win at Dallas on Dec. 12, 2010. “It’s definitely a team

thing.”

Michael Vick also starred against the Cowboys earlier this

season, completing 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns

while running seven times for 50 yards.

“It feels good to still have a chance to even be considered in

the playoff race,” said Vick, who threw for 274 yards with one

touchdown while adding another score on the ground last week.

“We’ve been through a lot, but we’re resilient.”