The Dallas Cowboys enter a do-or-die matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 17. The Eagles are flying high after destroying the Chicago Bears on national television. The Cowboys were able to beat the lowly Redskins, thanks to a game-winning drive put together by Tony Romo. With the win, the Cowboys were able to keep pace with the Eagles. Despite being one game behind Philadelphia, the Cowboys have the advantage because they won the first meeting between the two teams in Philadelphia earlier this season. The Cowboys may be without their best player in Tony Romo because of a herniated disc injury in his back.
The loss of Romo is absolutely devastating to this game. It is like losing a captain of a ship, Romo is just a hard guy to replace. In fact, many take for granted how good of a quarterback the Cowboys have. When news broke out about Romo’s contract over the offseason, many Cowboys fans wanted the quarterback gone. Realistically, there are about eighteen teams in the NFL that would take Romo over their current quarterback. Romo has thrown some terrible passes before, but so does every quarterback. To keep it short, the Cowboys are going to really miss their number one playmaker if he cannot strap up this weekend.
Kyle Orton will be the starting quarterback this week if Romo cannot play. Although Jerry Jones has made it clear he has confidence in Orton, there is no way Cowboys fans believe the same. A way to make Kyle Orton dangerous is by simplifying the playbook. Instead of long and deep passes, the Cowboys should be doing more short passes to help Orton. Also, the Cowboys have to give the ball to DeMarco Murray as much as possible. Murray has been able to stay healthy for much of the season. Because of this, he was able to surpass 1,000 rushing yards last week against the Redskins.
One could argue that the biggest problem Dallas will face this weekend is their offense going up against Philly’s defense. But, this offense has too many playmakers to not put up points. Regardless of losing Romo, this team still has Murray, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten for production. This offense is the third highest team in points per game in the league. That is ahead of the likes of New England, New Orleans, and Detroit. The Cowboys have been able to put up a ton of points this year.
On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys have had a very odd year. This defense was shelled by the Saints, the Bears, and the Broncos. But, they have shut down teams this year. In fact, the Cowboys only allowed 3 points in their first matchup against Philadelphia. Despite being one of the worst defenses of all time, the Cowboys are one of two teams to keep the Eagles from scoring double digits. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has played against Chip Kelly’s system for many times from their USC vs. Oregon games in college.
To stop this Eagles offense, the Cowboys must slow the ball down. This means the Cowboys must give the ball to DeMarco Murray a lot to keep their defense off the field. Second, the Cowboys must make it clear to stop LeSean McCoy from breaking big gains. Last week against the worst rush defense in football, Shady McCoy made the Bears pay.
To stop McCoy, the Cowboys might want to move Barry Church to middle linebacker for the early snaps. In my article last week, I said the Cowboys should do this to shut down Alfred Morris as well. By having Church in the box, the Cowboys will get one of their smartest defensive players in the box. Church is also one of their best tacklers, if not the best. The Cowboys have watched Church blossom into their stud safety throughout the course of the season.
For the Cowboys to pull off an upset in this game, the Cowboys have to slow this Eagles offense. In their last meeting, McCoy was not as productive as he usually is. By using a similar gameplan, the Cowboys can shut down McCoy. They have shut down elite running games in the past. This was the case against the Raiders when the defense held Rashad Jennings to under 40 yards. The Cowboys can shut down McCoy. If Dallas can do this, the Cowboys have a good chance to advance to the playoffs.
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