Game Scout: Eagles at Cowboys

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas - TV: NBC
*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
*Keys to the game: If QB Tony Romo (back) cannot play, the Cowboys aren't conceding defeat but history is not a friend of theirs. Backup Kyle Orton has a sour history against Bill Davis-coached defenses, but the Eagles' defensive coordinator insists past wins on his resume aren't for application in this matchup. What Davis knows is Orton is a first-read passer who will make mistakes when agitated and, knowing that, the Cowboys can plan for an all-out test in blitz pickup. Where Dallas can win is outside against single coverage. Dez Bryant is expected to play through a back injury. He has advantages in strength and speed over CB Cary Williams and is bigger than Bradley Fletcher on the other side. Dallas is working at a deficit in the speed department, a big reason the defense can't get off the field. With Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware lagging, Eagles QB Nick Foles should stand fearlessly in the pocket knowing there are big plays to be found in every direction. The Cover-Two scheme can be torched by quick tosses to the flanks -- where RB LeSean McCoy is an elusive home-run threat -- and seam throws to TEs Zach Ertz and Brent Celek.
*Matchup to watch - Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray vs. Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans: Calling Murray's number relentlessly would serve multiple purposes, including keeping the Dallas defense off the field. He did not play in the Oct. 20 win at Philadelphia, but has been critical in the Cowboys winning four of the past six meetings.
*Player spotlight - Cowboys WR Terrance Williams: Miles Austin was an afterthought last week, when Williams helped set up the dramatic victory over the Redskins. Of all the receivers, he has had the most individual work with Orton.
*Fast facts: Dallas is 2-11 in Week 17 since 2000, worst in the NFL. ... The Eagles have produced 450-plus total yards in three consecutive games.
For the third straight year, the Cowboys botch a Week 17 game with the carrot of a playoff spot in front of them. There are too many holes in the Dallas defense, and too many variables without Tony Romo at the trigger.
*Our pick: Eagles 36-23

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