The NFL has a habit of scheduling the best game for Sunday night and this week is no different. For the second time in less than three weeks the (9-4) Philadelphia Eagles will take on the (9-4) Dallas Cowboys in the most crucial match-up of the year for both teams (8:30pm EST on NBC).
This game will likely determine both which team wins the NFC East and who makes the playoffs.
It wasn’t more than three weeks ago that the Eagles and Cowboys battled for the first time this year. The setting was Thanksgiving, a game which Dallas is no stranger to having played in all of them since the thanksgiving game’s inception. Philadelphia on the other hand has largely been absent from turkey day games but that hasn’t stopped them from having the largest winning percentage of all teams when they do play.
This year, Philly’s streak continued. On the road, the Eagles came out swinging scoring a touchdown on their first possession of the game. They would score 16 more points before the end of the first half and 33 total in the game, largely in part thanks to Lesean McCoy’s 159 yards on the ground. Dallas meanwhile, scored just 10 in what amounted to Tony Romo’s (pictured) worst thanksgiving game in quite a few years. Star running back Demarco Murray totaled just 73 yards, his worst output on the season.
But there is no doubt this week is going to be different. In a lot of ways, these two teams are not the same ones that took the field in late November.
For anyone who knows the name Tony Romo there are two popular topics that are conversation starters. The first being the botched snap in one of the few playoff appearances the Cowboys have had in the last decade and the second of course being, the woeful month of December.
It is no secret that when the calendar turns to December that the reliability of Romo is drastically reduced. Since the start of his career, Romo is 13-17 in games played in December. He is 62-36 in every other game. His numbers weren’t all that great either as with a 58.5 completion percentage, 14 : 19 TD to INT ratio and 71.9 passer rating, Romo really did fall short when his team needed him the most.
The criticism of Romo’s meltdown in the cold months has been real and the numbers have backed it up, but only to a point. What people aren’t telling you is that since 2009 Romo has been bettered by only Aaron Rodgers when it comes to QB play in the month of December.
Romo’s touchdown to interception ratio has been phenomenal at 37 : 8 and that includes one game in which he threw three picks, his only truly bad December game in the past six seasons. He threw for over 300 yards in most of those contests and has completed over 66% of his passes in that span as well.
The Cowboys are headed to Lincoln Financial Field and fortunately for them Romo has never been bad in road December games. In fact, over the course of his career, Romo has garnered praise as being one of the better road quarterbacks in the NFL.
Romo is 9-7 on the road in the month of December since the start of his career with a commendable 63.6 QBR in those games as well. Since 2009, Romo’s QBR of 73.5 in divisional road games is fifth in the league.
This season, Romo is 5-0 on the road with a QBR of 88.2. It is the highest such stat in the league this year and one of the highest in the past five seasons. The stats also favor the Romo-Dez Bryant connection on the road as six of his nine TD passes to the top receiver have come away from Arlington. And with the less than impressive cornerback situation in Philadelphia, Romo finding Bryant could be key to a Cowboys’ victory.
Don’t Forget the Running Game
Romo can be great, Bryant is a star and so is Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin. QB Mark Sanchez has managed to hold his own this year finding Maclin and Jordan Matthews to be his top targets, but this game will not be about the passing. Rather, this contest will highlight two excellent runningbacks, both of whom just happen to be two of the hottest in the league right now.
Murray (DAL) is coming off of his best output of the season last week, a road game in Chicago. He totaled 179 rushing yards and added 49 on nine receptions. Murray has become a weapon in the passing game as of late, catching six or more passes in three of the last four weeks. He has also scored a rushing touchdown in each of the last two weeks.
Not once this year has Murray failed to total 100 rushing yards on the road and in only two of those games has Murray failed to score a touchdown. He is running like the best in the game this year and is approaching the record books in more ways than one.
McCoy (PHI) got off to a slow start but has rushed with great success over the past three weeks. McCoy has totaled over 130 yards in two of the past three, including a season’s best 159 yards in the team’s thanksgiving game against Dallas. He has on the most part run his best at home this year.
These two are what this game might come down too. May the best back win and likely that is how it will happen. Both Dallas and Philly are reliant on their running game, so much so that they rank first and second in total carries this year. Both are also two of just six runningbacks who have surpassed the 1,000 yard mark so far this season.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Betting Picks
Dallas is 5-0 on the road this year and before last week, Philly was a perfect 6-0 at home. Both teams are in top five in scoring. Both teams have excellent running backs. Both teams have quarterbacks with proverbial monkeys on their backs as well as something to prove. Both teams want desperately to win this game because it likely means that they will win the NFC East.
In a lot of ways, Dallas and Philly are very much alike, so much so that this game profiles to be the one that thanksgiving missed being. Given all that is on the line and the mentality and building rivalry of both teams, don’t expect either to go down quietly.
- Take the Cowboys +3pts on the spread @ best odds of +105 with BetOnline Sportsbook (it is evens with 5Dimes). If you prefer you can get +3.5pts but for shorter odds of -115 with Bovada. We prefer the first option but you might rather get that extra half point on your side instead. Win or lose, this one will not end up a blowout like the first game did.
- The total points for the game tops out at the week’s highest spread with the sportsbooks of 55. Even given the propensity for scoring, this total will be tough to top. Take the under 55 total points @ -110 odds with any of Bovada, BetOnline or 5Dimes.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.