Looking to repeat as NFC East champs for the first time in nine years, the Philadelphia Eagles can all but lock up the division with a victory over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia claimed last year’s division crown in head coach Chip Kelly’s first season, and haven’t won back-to-back NFC East titles since 2004.
But the Cowboys are in the midst of a five-year division drought, and are eager to avenge Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving 33-10 victory to stay in the NFC East race.
Both squads are 9-4 but a season sweep by Philadelphia puts it in the driver seat to claim the division. A loss for Dallas could prove devastating to its playoff hopes, and it would force the Cowboys to contend in a very crowded NFC wild card race.
The extra nerves don’t seem to bother Tony Romo and the Cowboys. After posting arguably his worst Thanksgiving performance this year, Romo led Dallas in a 41-28 romp of Chicago the following week. The veteran went 21-for-26 for 205 yards and three touchdowns.
Dallas built a 35-7 lead by the fourth quarter, which allowed running back DeMarco Murray to kill lots of clock with 179 rushing yards and one touchdown on a season-high 32 attempts. Over usage could become an issue for Murray as the season reaches its most critical point, but Dallas will need him to attack an Eagles defense giving up 113.8 rushing yards per game.
Last week the Eagles particularly struggled against Seattle’s rushing attack, giving up 188 yards in the 24-14 loss, which hurt a case for one of the NFC’s top playoff seeds and a bye week.
Due to the defense’s inability to stop the run, Philadelphia’s high-octane offense was on the field for only 18 minutes.
Resurgent quarterback Mark Sanchez made the most out of limited possessions by throwing two touchdowns, but his interception midway through the fourth quarter canceled out any chance of a comeback. The former Jet also posted a season-low 76.3 passer rating.
Sanchez can get back on track against the Cowboys 25th ranked pass defense, which he picked apart two weeks ago for 217 passing yards and one touchdown. He also put up a season-best 28 rushing yards and another score.
Almost half of Sanchez’s yardage went to receiver Jeremy Maclin. Philadelphia’s leading receiver torched Dallas for 108 yards but couldn't get into the end zone.
Philadelphia will also need a big game from running back LeSean McCoy. The sixth year back racked up 159 rushing yards against Dallas, but posted his fourth game of the season with less than three yards a carry last week against Seattle.
Injury wise, neither team is banged up very much. But Dallas could get a huge boost from returning rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who sat out against Chicago with a rib injury.
Start Time: 8:30 P.M. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Live Online Stream: A live stream is available at SNF All Access here
Betting Odds: Philadelphia -3.5
Over/Under: 55 points
Prediction: Philadelphia over Dallas, 31-24