Eagles-Cowboys Preview

The Dallas Cowboys have complete control of their path to
another NFC East title, and they might be even closer by

The Philadelphia Eagles’ playoff fate could be determined then,

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

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

“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

“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

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.”