The Dallas Cowboys (10-4) and Indianapolis Colts (10-4) face some difficult questions over some key injured starters ahead of their Week 16 matchup on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Specifically the Cowboys must decide whether to let top running back DeMarco Murray rest after undergoing hand surgery earlier this week or ask him to play with the postseason possibly on the line. Indianapolis has a similar predicament in leading receiver T.Y. Hilton and star cornerback Vontae Davis, though the Colts' choice is a little less difficult given they already clinched the AFC South and a spot in the playoffs.
The NFL's leading rusher Murray is listed as questionable on the team’s official injury report ahead of the huge clash with the Colts.
Murray was limited in Thursday and Friday’s practice sessions this week after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand. Far and away the best performing back in the league this year, Murray’s gained 1,687 yards and 11 touchdowns for the first-place Cowboys.
Murray said Thursday he would decide if he plays and head coach Jason Garrett reflected that statement, according to USA Today.
"If we see things that don't really add up to what he's saying about how he's feeling, we'll certainly have that communication" Garrett said. "But he's the one who knows about himself more than anybody, and we trust his feedback."
With the NFC East and a playoff berth at stake, Dallas can ill afford to miss Murray. At 10-4, the Cowboys are currently first in the division after last week’s 38-27 victory over Philadelphia, but the Eagles are only one game back and can reclaim the East if Dallas slips.
If Murray does sit, Joseph Randle is likely to fill his role. Randle’s second on the team with 237 yards and two touchdowns with 7.0 yards per carry.
Adding to the Cowboys injury woes, starting offensive tackle Doug Free is listed as doubtful due to an ankle injury, while rookie guard Zack Martin, who’s garnered praise all season for his stellar play, is also questionable with an ankle knock.
After sitting out practice all week, second-string linebacker Dekoda Watson (hamstring) was also ruled out for the fourth straight week.
The Colts (10-4) do have the option of sitting both Hilton and Davis, but also risk losing ground for one of the top two seeds in the AFC. New England and Denver are one game up on the Colts, but could potentially slip, and Indy does own the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating the Broncos 31-24 in Week 1.
According to the team’s official injury report, Hilton missed practice all week with a hamstring injury and Davis is suffering from an injured groin. Both players are listed as questionable against the Cowboys.
Hilton’s fourth in the NFL with 1,345 receiving yards and seven touchdowns as quarterback Andrew Luck’s No. 1 target. Davis leads the Colts secondary with 19 passes defended and is second with four interceptions for a group ranked No. 19 in the league.
Indy could turn to veteran Hakeem Nicks or Donte Moncrief, who together have combined for 53 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns.
At corner, Darius Butler and Sheldon Price are next up on the depth chart behind Davis. Butler is in his sixth year in the league and is likely to see more snaps compared to Price, who was activated from the practice squad on Monday.
The Colts also have some worries at right guard, with both Joe Reitz (ankle) and Hugh Thornton (knee) ruled out. Fifth-year guard Lance Louis is next up on the depth chart and he’s appeared in seven games this season, starting five.
Start Time: 4:25 P.M. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Updated Betting Odds: The line opened at Dallas -1, but shifted to Dallas -3.5
Over/Under: The over/under changed from 56 points to 55.5