Blog Entry

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

Posted on: January 6, 2010 1:24 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2010 9:11 pm

WILD CARD ROUND --- The Dallas Cowboys (3) and the Philadelphia Eagles (6) face off for the third time this season, and needless to say, this is the most important. The winner moves on in the surprisingly tough NFC playoffs, while the loser goes home with a lot of unanswered questions.

Leading up to their anticipated Week 17 matchup, both teams had momentum. The Eagles had won six straight games, their offense was looking unstoppable, and the defense was stepping up in the crucial moments. All looked good. On the other side, the Cowboys were coming off two very impressive performances. The first was a win against the then-undefeated New Orleans Saints; the second was a shutout performance of the Washington Redskins. The defense was looking strong, and Romo's woes in December had suddenly disappeared. Two hot teams facing each other, with the stakes high. An Eagles win gave them the #2 seed and a first round bye. A Cowboys win would ensure them home field advantage for at least their first game, and with help, a potential #2 seed for themselves.

The game turned out to be a party for the Cowboys. From the beginning, the Eagles' defense could not stop the run. Marion Barber and Felix Jones began slicing through the injury-riddled defense of Philadelphia. Tony Romo began to find his groove early on, as well. The Eagles offense never got anything going, and the game ended painfully... a 24-0 loss to the hated rival Dallas Cowboys.

This week, however, the Eagles can start fresh. A win vs. the Cowboys this Saturday night and the Week 17 loss will be forgotten. A loss vs. the Cowboys this Saturday night and the Cowboys are 3-0 vs. the Eagles in the 2009-2010 season, a mark that will not be forgotten in seasons to come.

Impact Players

The Cowboys are the favorites to win this game, and a big reason why they are favored is because of their defense. The defense shut down New Orleans in the upset, held Washington to zero points, and then shut out the scoring hot Eagles offense. The defense's toughness starts up front with Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff. As it was last week, the matchup of Ratliff vs. inexperienced Philadelphia center Nick Cole will be a big key to this game. Cole did a better job than most assumed he would last week vs. Ratliff, but this week could very well be another story.

To stop the Cowboys, the main player that must the stopped is the quarterback, Tony Romo. At the end of the day, Romo is the man leading the Cowboys to victory. To stop Romo, the secondary must obviously play a great game. However, I think getting pressure on him is the more effecient way of flustering Romo. In Week 17, Tony Romo had all the time to throw the ball, as the Eagles' defense got minimal pressure throughout the game. With all of this time, Romo easily found Miles Austin, Jason Witten, and Patrick Crayton throughout the game and in the clutch situations. Romo got through the dreaded month of December, and while it started out scary, by the end of the month most Cowboy fans are trusting Romo to get the job done.

The main man I expect to see stepping it up for Philadelphia is defensive end Trent Cole. Cole is the best pass rusher on the Eagles' defense, as well as the leader. For the Eagles to have a chance in this game, they must stop Tony Romo. To stop Tony Romo, they must bring pressure on him. To bring pressure on him, they need their best pass rusher to step up their game, and that man is Trent Cole. If Cole and the Eagles defense can get to Romo early, I see him making some bad decisions that feisty cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown may be able to take advantage of.

Key Matchups

Miles Austin has been one of the pleasant surprises this season for the Dallas Cowboys, and has made a name for himself as one of the big play threats in the NFL. Austin faces one of the best cornerback tandems in the league of All-Pro corner Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown. For Austin to be shut down in this matchup, the Eagles' corners need to cotinue their stellar play.

It's already been mentioned, but the matchup between center Nick Cole of the Eagles and nose tackle Jay Ratliff of the Cowboys is a very important one. Ratliff had a quiet game in Week 17, but chances of him being that quiet this Saturday are slim. The stakes are higher and I expect the same of Ratliff's level of play.

Eagles' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has done a nice job of calling the defense in his first season taking over for the late Jim Johnson, but how will he fare vs. a great playcaller in the Cowboys' Jason Garrett. Garrett has more experience, but look for McDermott to do a solid job with the defense.

Eagles vs. Cowboys Stadium is also a huge matchup that no one is talking about. In Week 17, it certainly looked like there were some nerves in the Eagles' players, playing in Cowboy Stadium. The crowd can really help Dallas in this game, as it did last week.

Keys to the Game

For the Eagles, the main thing they have to do is get going early, offensively and defensively. They will be nervous, knowing that they are the underdogs and playing possibly the hottest team in the NFC. If the Eagles can get going early, however, they will forget about the critics and just go out there and play. If not, I see them losing confidence quickly, as it seems they did in Week 17.

For the Cowboys, the main key is stopping the Eagles' big plays. They did a great job in Week 17, and if they can keep it up in this game, look for them to have a huge advantage. DeSean Jackson is at his best when he's making the big plays, something he hasn't been able to do vs. the Cowboys this season.


Donovan McNabb does not like losing, and I think he'll come out with fire in this game. Look for him, along with tight end Brent Celek, to have big games for the Eagles on offense. The Cowboys' defense has shut down DeSean Jackson well this season, and I see them slowing him down this game as well. With Jackson being bottled up, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant have to have big games.

As a diehard Eagles fan it's hard to go against them, but I like the Dallas Cowboys in this game. They are hot at the right time, and it's not just one particular unit. The offense is on fire, and very balanced. Marion Barber and Felix Jones can slice and dice through that plagued Eagles' defense, while Tony Romo has great targets to get the ball to. The Cowboys' defense is aggressive, and they haven't allowed any points in the last two games vs. NFC East competition.

There you have it... should be a great game, one that I am looking very forward to. While the Cowboys are the frontrunners to win this game, the Eagles have what it takes to not only win this game, but advance deep into the postseason. I made my prediction of the Cowboys to win the game, but here's to hoping that I am dreadfully wrong. :p

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: January 9, 2010 5:26 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

Andy Reid is a very good coach and I agree it will be hard to beat a good team three times in a season.  Wade Phillips seems to be a little under rated however.  He is now taking charge on the defense and I think  he is one of the best in the game when it comes to coaching defense, especially when you have the talent the Cowboys have.  They aren't the best defense, but very good and Phillips uses the strengths to expose the opposing team's offense weaknesses the best.  Holding the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles to 0 points in two games and New Orleans to 17 points.  The Cowboys are confident because they are playing the way a good team is supposed to play, especially going into the playoffs.  Tony Romo has been near perfect in December and needs to continue.  Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Felix Jones and Marion Barber need to continue to play strong and Patrick Crayton has come into his own as a punt returner and 3rd wide out.  Experience is certainly helpful but playing good football and being confident because of that is a better bet in my opinion.  I feel good about a Cowboys win but not confident.  The Eagles are a good time and when Donavan NcNabb is on, he is an awesome general on the field.  Plus, you never know when it comes to the NFC East!  It doesn't matter the stats, the record, the talent or the team; It's a game bewteen two teams from the toughest divsion in football.  Looking forward to a great game! 

Since: Sep 29, 2007
Posted on: January 8, 2010 6:08 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

Biggy, the first post was from the realistic guy. The second post was from the hopeful guy. Tongue out

I'm sorry I didn't know you suffered from multiple personality disorder. I feel bad now picking on a guy with a psychological disease. Frown

Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: January 8, 2010 5:39 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

Biggy, the first post was from the realistic guy. The second post was from the hopeful guy. Tongue out

Since: Sep 29, 2007
Posted on: January 8, 2010 2:46 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

I also want to throw this out there... Brent Celek is one of the most underrated tight ends in the league. He can improve his run blocking, sure, but as a receiver I'd say he is a top 5, if not top 3, tight end in the league today.

Got robbed of his first Pro Bowl appearance, as did Sheldon Brown.

But it's okay, since the Eagles are going to Super Bowl anyway!
Didn't you just pick the Cowboys to win this game? How can the Eagles go to the Super Bowl if they lost their 1st round playoff game? Is the whole team just gonna buy tickets to the game and watch from the sidelines? Hehe, sorry Harst but I think you contradicted yourself without realizing it. Tongue out

Since: Jan 1, 2010
Posted on: January 8, 2010 2:18 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

good luck boltfan,you will need it.The cowboys will go to the bowl and they will be around for A while.GO COWBOYS"AMERICAS TEAM"

Since: Jan 1, 2010
Posted on: January 8, 2010 2:12 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

Bull crap,the begles are not going anywhere but home after this game and you know it. 

Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: January 7, 2010 10:45 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

Gotta go DallasYep, hard to go against them. Still, wouldn't call a Philly win a big upset.

Since: Jan 20, 2007
Posted on: January 7, 2010 7:02 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

Boo Eagles. Go New England.

No but seriously nice read Harsty. Just think Cowboys are rolling and Eagles are on their heels. Gotta go Dallas.

Since: Sep 10, 2006
Posted on: January 7, 2010 8:23 am

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

I am picking them for talent and experience, regardless of what I saw last week.Very good point. I don't see Andy Reid losing three times in a season to Wade Phillips, especially not in two consecutive weeks. The Eagles have more experience, although many of their stars are young. On the flip side, the Cowboys don't have too much experience, but a ton of confidence.

Experience vs. confidence--- should be fun!

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2010 11:05 pm

Playoff Preview: #3 DAL vs. #6 PHI

Well informed and refreshingly objective breakdown of the game Harst! 
I am not going to be as objective.  I want the Eagles to win this game.  Now, if we all pick a point directly above our televisions during the game and focus all of our concentration on it... collectively we can will the Eagles to victory. 

Or, not so much.  Anyway, I don't think they will need long-distance telekenisis to pull it off.  I am picking them for talent and experience, regardless of what I saw last week.


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