NFL Betting Preview
Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) at Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
Saturday January 9th, 8:00PM Eastern
Betus.com betting line – Dallas -4, 45 O/U
The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys represent another week 17 rematch this Saturday in the opening NFC playoff game for wildcard weekend. The Cowboys dominated the Eagles last week shutting them out 24-0 to capture the NFC East crown for just the 2nd time in the last decade. In fact, it was the Cowboys 2nd straight shutout as they also posted a 17-0 victory over the Redskins in week 16. The sudden emergence of the Cowboys defense could really make a huge impact on the NFL playoffs considering the offense has been pretty solid all season. If the Cowboys continue to get big help from the defense, they could finally end their 13 year postseason winless drought and also make an even deeper run in the playoffs than many expect. The Cowboys have won both meetings against the Eagles this season, but Philadelphia will try to change some things up this week and prove how hard it is to beat a team 3 times in one season.
One thing the Eagles may try to do this week is get Michael Vick involved in the game. Vick was not used in the last two games, but the Eagles may try to get him in the game in the “wildcat” formation to penetrate the Cowboys defensive line and may even let him throw a few passes to fool the Cowboys defense. The reason the Eagles may resort to Vick a few more plays is because the Dallas defensive line dominated the Eagles up front last week. QB Donovan McNabb was sacked 4 times and stayed under relentless pressure. McNabb was still able to throw for 223 yards in the contest frequently hitting tight end Brent Celek who racked up 96 yards. Celek may be the go to guy again if the secondary continues to focus on the explosive threat of WR DeSean Jackson who has the speed to get behind the secondary to make big plays. The Cowboys did a good job of giving help to the side of the field where Jackson was playing and I believe they will do that again. Therefore, Celek will again have some chances to get open. However, the Eagles are going to need to finish drives if they are going to have any chance at capturing the victory.
The Cowboys simply need to do what they did last week. The defensive front led by DE DeMarcus Ware need to stay in McNabb’s face all day. More importantly the secondary, which has been vulnerable at times, can not allow any type of big plays. They must keep everyone in front and make tackles. If they get that type of effort from the defense again, the Cowboys offense definitely has the utilities to get the job done. QB Tony Romo completed 70% of passing last week for 311 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 pick. The interception was just Romo’s 2nd pick in the last 6 games and it was on a deflected pass that hung up in the air for some time. Needless to say Romo has exceeded expectations and WR Miles Austin continues to impress with another solid performance racking up 90 yards last week. Austin has 1,320 yards on the season and also tight end Jason Witten has also eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on the year as well. Witten grabbed 6 passes for 76 yards last week. If they can keep the ball moving, the Cowboys will have the opportunities to score more points yet again.
Also we have a few things to watch for heading into Saturday night’s game. Cowboys running backs Felix Jones and Marion Barber were both impressive at times last week. Jones knocked off a 49 yard touchdown run and Barber had 58 yards on the first drive alone. Look for those guys to set the tone for the Cowboys early. For the Eagles, it is important that McNabb finds a way to hook up with Jackson. They missed on a few chances last week and at least one of those occurrences Jackson was behind all of the Dallas defenders. If there are going to be any quick scores for Philadelphia, it is likely that Jackson will be the playmaker to post the points so McNabb must capitalize when he gets open with some solid throws. Philadelphia must get more help from the offense and Jackson will be the guy leading that charge. Of course the defense could really help issues if they can force a few turnovers.
Pick – Seems like it would be no surprise for Dallas to fall apart here and the Eagles should play much better. However, the Cowboys still have too much momentum here and believe they edge out the Eagles similar to the first meeting.