NFL Football Betting Preview
Philadelphia Eagles (11-4) at Dallas Cowboys (10-5)
Sunday January 3rd, 4:15PM Eastern
Betus.com betting line – Cowboys -3, 47 O/U
The Dallas Cowboys silenced a lot of criticism for the 2nd straight week in a row last week. After knocking off the undefeated Saints in week 15, the Cowboys shutout the Redskins 17-0 to clinch a spot in the playoffs. The win not only proved Dallas could win a couple big games, but also silenced the December slump talk as well. The Cowboys now host the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend with one final objective left on their plate and that is to win the NFC East title. It was just one year ago the Cowboys needed a victory over the Eagles to get into the playoffs, and was blown out in Philadelphia 44-6. Dallas may not need the win to get into the playoffs, but the game will be of equal importance as the winner will get home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs and with some help possibly even a first round bye.
The Eagles are possibly the hottest team in the NFC winning 6 straight games. However, they fell to the Cowboys earlier this season in a close 20-16 game. The Cowboys defense forced a few turnovers in that game and kept the Eagles to their 2nd lowest scoring total of the year. Still, Philadelphia will attempt to deliver a crushing blow to the Cowboys for the 2nd straight year in the season finale. However this year the Eagles will not be in front of the home crowd, but rather in front of a sold out crowd at the Cowboys new stadium which will house 100,000 plus to decide the NFC East crown.
The Eagles will be attempting to take the crowd out of the game very early and jump on Cowboys from the start. The Eagles have not lost a game all season when they have been the first to score. In fact, the Eagles allowed their opponents to score first in 3 of their first 4 losses this season. All of those scores were first quarter touchdowns. It will be imperative for the Eagles to come out of the gates strong and keep the momentum from building with the home crowd. The guy to do that damage will be WR DeSean Jackson. Despite the always important QB Donovan McNabb, Jackson holds the key to the Cowboys doom. Jackson has tremendous speed and one of the best down field threats in the league. The Cowboys have really struggled against similar types players all year. The Cowboys secondary had no answer for Chargers WR Vincent Jackson in week 13 and similar type results against Giants wide out Steve Smith in week 12. Jackson was very quiet in the first meeting, but expect the Eagles offense to put a lot more effort around their game plan and getting Jackson the ball this Sunday.
Of course the guy throwing Jackson the ball will have plenty of importance Sunday. McNabb had just one interception on the season before tossing two against the Cowboys in the first meeting. McNabb has thrown for 300 plus yards in the last two games so it will be interesting what type of effort he can post on Sunday. The Eagles running game has really struggled this season. RB Brian Westbrook returned to action last week with just 32 rushing yards. LeSean McCoy leads the team in rushing with 631 yards. The running game could give the Eagles a bit of balance, but it will not likely be the difference in the outcome given their on-going struggles.
Dallas on the other hand could really control the game with the running backs in their stable. Tailback Marion Barber has rushed for 841 yards this season while sharing carries with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Barber is the bruising back the Cowboys need for tough yards, but do not be fooled when Jones gets the ball because he has all the tools to be a homerun threat. Dallas will need their tailbacks to move the chains allow maximum opportunities to develop for the passing game. QB Tony Romo has really been the big player over the past few weeks. Even in a few losses, Romo has played very well completing 67% of his passes over the past 5 games.
Romo also has surprisingly thrown just 1 interception compared to 9 touchdowns in that 5 game stretch as well. When the Dallas rush offense, is complimenting Romo they are really a tough team to beat. WR Miles Austin has emerged as the big play threat and depending on what type of scoring game this turns out to be may determine on how many big plays they will need out of Austin. Austin is averaging over 100 yards receiving in the last 5 games so it will be important that he can be a factor again at keep the Eagles defense from playing in on the running game. The Cowboys will definitely need an all around solid effort, but they are extremely dangerous when everything comes together as well.
Pick – The Dallas secondary is the x-factor in which team comes out victorious. However, defenses will be the story again similar to the first meeting. Take the under 47