This Cowboys-Eagles game was set to be so good. Tony Romo OBVIOUSLY was going to get the chance to win the game in the final 2 minutes of the game, and the result was either going to rewrite or reaffirm the narrative of his career. It was going to be awesome.
And then came the report that Romo might miss the rest of the season with a back injury -- the same back injury he overcame to lead the Cowboys to a last-second victory last week vs. the Redskins. And that made me sad. Romo wouldn't get the chance to lead his team to the playoffs (maybe) or lead his team into yet another disappointment.
Originally, the Eagles were giving between 2.5 and 3.5 on the line. Now, without Romo, it's Philadelphia -7.5. With the original line and with Romo, I probably would have gone with the Cowboys. Now, I'll go with the Eagles. Here are three reasons why.
1) Kyle Orton, not Romo, probably will start. I actually think Orton is a solid quarterback, especially in the backup role. He's also 35-34 in his career as a starter, so that's a somewhat positive takeaway now that it looks like he'll be the man Sunday. But he also hasn't started a game since 2011 with the Chiefs, and he famously lost his job that year with the Broncos to one Mr. Tim Tebow. Orton is a better backup option than most of the other No. 2s in the league, but in this spot in Week 17, even if he's facing a subpar defense in Philadelphia, I don't think he'll beat the Eagles.
2) The Eagles offense, as it turns out, is pretty darn good. Statistically, it's the best offense the organization has ever unveiled, and I think it's safe to say that Chip Kelly's first year in the league has been a success. The standout play of quarterback Nick Foles has been a surprise, but he's been fantastic this year. Plus, the team has a solid offensive line, a running back in LeSean McCoy who will likely win the rushing title, a top-notch receiver in DeSean Jackson and a solid No. 2 man in Riley Cooper. If they make the playoffs and that defense can keep itself together, the Eagles could make some significant noise in the postseason.
3)The narrative for the Cowboys is pretty simple. Dallas either will be leading the game or making a comeback on the Eagles, and somehow, Romo will fritter the game away with a badly-timed interception (despite the fact that the team was still in the game because of Romo). The Eagles would win, and all the highlights would show Romo's season-ending mistake. It would follow him for the rest of his career life. But just because Romo isn't playing, that doesn't mean the Cowboys can't continue their own narrative. In 2011 and 2012, the Cowboys could have won the NFC East and made the playoffs by beating a division opponent in Week 17. Looks like 2013 will make it three years in a row.
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