Now that Tony Romo has been declared out for the rest of the season, it made the NFC East Championship a lot more interesting. Well, maybe not more interesting for the Cowboys, but much more for the Eagles. Does Romo being out actually help Dallas? Or is losing their franchise QB this late in the season too much for them? There are many scenarios that would explain both a win or loss for the Eagles next Sunday night, and here are a few of them.
How the Eagles could win
Tony Romo is out, backup QB is in
The most obvious reason is that because Romo isn’t playing, it means the Cowboys are using a backup QB. Despite the tons of criticism that Romo takes after every game, he still is a very good QB in this league and is their best option at QB. Whenever you’re playing with anything less, it hurts your team. The players aren’t used to having someone else leading the offense, and this could easily throw off the timing and chemistry of a team that already seems to be challenged a bit. Not having Romo is a huge hit to Dallas.
Kyle Orton is the backup QB
While Orton is one of the more talented backup QBs in the league, he’s still nowhere near the talent level that the Cowboys would need to win the game, much less as good as Romo. He hasn’t started a game since 2011 when he was pulled in favor of one of the worst QBs in the NFL, Tim Tebow. If you’re considered ineffective enough to warrant the bringing in of Tebow, there’s got to be something wrong. He’s going to be rusty and would likely need more than just a week to prepare for the biggest game of the Cowboys’ season, and possibly the biggest game in Jason Garrett’s coaching tenure. His job is on the line, and now he doesn’t have his starting QB. Things will go wrong.
Sean Lee is also out
Lee is second on the team in tackles (99) and first in INTs (4). Missing the best player on the defensive side for Dallas is a major hit to their team, and his absence in multiple games helps explain why their defense has been so bad this year. But the funny thing is, their defense is still terrible with him in the game, just slightly less terrible. Missing the QB of the defense is always a bad thing for a team, and they’ll really miss him in this one.
The Eagles are better than the Cowboys anyway
The Cowboys are coming off of a 4th quarter comeback to beat the Redskins, possibly the worst team in the NFL right now. The Eagles are coming off a total blowout against a possible playoff team on national television. Who does it sound like has more momentum right now? The Cowboys are probably demoralized from both the loss of Romo for the season and the fact that the Eagles are so dangerous right now. Plus, the Cowboys’ defense is terrible. While Chicago is 29th in defense for total yards against, Dallas is dead last at 32nd. Nick Foles has the ability to pass if the running game isn’t effective, but with the number one offense in the league, that shouldn’t be too hard.
How the Eagles could lose
Dallas is using a backup QB
Yes, this is basically the same reason as why the Eagles could win, but there’s also a counterargument to it. When the Eagles played the Vikings two weeks ago, Minnesota was using a backup QB, missing their best offensive player in Adrian Peterson, and missing their top 3 CBs on defense. But, the Eagles still got crushed. If Dallas has a backup QB in, the Eagles could get too overconfident and fall out of competition early. If the Eagles can’t beat Matt Cassel, could they beat Kyle Orton?
Dallas can focus more on the run game
Dallas is 12-0 all-time when starting RB DeMarco Murray has 20+ touches. Is it really that hard to get a RB as talented as Murray 20 or more touches in a game? No, not really. With a backup QB in, the Cowboys could be looking to run the ball more against a pretty bad Eagles defense in terms of total yards given up. But, the Eagles have only given up one 100+ yard rusher all season, and that was Rashad Jennings in the game against the Raiders (and it was only 102). Murray also didn’t play in the first matchup between these teams, so they don’t have any film of him against themselves. While they could still win if he runs a lot, if Murray hits 20 touches, I’m getting worried.
Rivalry game throws everything out the window
The one thing that favors the Cowboys in this game is that it’s a do or die intense rivalry game. In rivalry games like this, records and stats and basically everything else are thrown out the window in favor of pure competition. If the Eagles don’t give 110% out there, they will lose. They are very capable of finding a way to lose just like the Cowboys; they are not invincible. They also won the first matchup, meaning they might have more confidence because of it. Either way, the Cowboys definitely can’t be counted out here.
While there are probably many other reasons for both arguments, these are the main ones for both sides. While I may be biased because I’m an Eagles fan, I still think the Eagles have a much better chance at winning. The Eagles offense is just way too good for the terrible Cowboys defense, and with them missing arguably their best offensive and best defensive players, it just doesn’t look too good for them. They’ll probably put up a fight, but I’m thinking the Eagles will come out on top. Score prediction: 31-17 Eagles win.