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Pat's Pick: Will Cowboys Or Eagles Win?

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Pat's Pick: Will Cowboys Or Eagles Win?

DeMarco Murray is hurt again, but he would like to prove to you that he can play through pain.
That’s at least what ESPN’s injury expert Stephania Bell believes.

Bell, who is a physical therapist and a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist, reports Murray would like to play Sunday, despite his sprained knee ligament, but the Cowboys are leaning toward making him take the day off to prohibit potential further damage.  However, the decision has still not been made.

“It appears the Cowboys are leaving the door open for Murray to impress them Sunday morning,” Bell wrote on her ESPN blog.

I think Murray’s attitude is understandable.  He’s sick of being labeled “fragile.”  You should have seen the look he gave reporters during training camp in Oxnard, CA., when he was asked about being “injury prone.”

But the questions are legitimate.  Even if Murray does not miss Sunday’s game against the Eagles, he has already missed more than double the number of games in his less-than-three year career with the Cowboys (nine) than Emmitt Smith did in his entire 13-year career (four).

As of the posting of this story, Murray is listed as doubtful on the Cowboys injury report.  My gut feeling (and that’s all it is) is that Murray plays a handful of snaps Sunday to try and quiet the masses.

Keys to the Game

1. Can the Cowboys defensive line continue its shockingly impressive play?  Without Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer, Tyronne Crawford, and now (possibly) DeMarcus Ware, Monte Kiffin’s defensive line is down to the bare bones.  But defensive tackle Jason Hatcher wanted to hear none of that talk this week. “Next man up!” he passionately said Monday.  Hatcher’s been fantastic in this new Kiffin 4-3 scheme, and he’ll need to be again this week.  Look for the Eagles to run plays at an incredibly fast pace Sunday, trying to wear down the already thin Cowboys front-four.

2. Will Nick Foles prove he’s better for Chip Kelly than Mike Vick?  When I spoke with long-time Dallas Morning News sports columnist Rick Gosselin (whose knowledge of the game is phenomenal) about the Mike Vick injury, he didn’t hesitate: “Foles will be better in that system than Vick is.”  Conventional thought says that Chip Kelly’s offense prefers a quarterback that is able to equally run and pass.  But Gosselin points out (correctly) that Kelly’s best offensive years at Oregon came with a QB that preferred the pocket over tucking the ball and taking off.  Foles made Rick look awfully smart by having a nice game against a bad Tampa Bay Buccaneers team last weekend.  Can he duplicate that against a Cowboys defense that played much better last Sunday against the Redskins (and yes, I consider allowing only one touchdown to a team that ranks in the top-10 in the NFL in total offense an improvement)?

3. Will Tony Romo pick apart an awful Eagles defense?  Before last Sunday’s game against the Eagles, the Buccaneers averaged only 11 points-per-game, which ranked second worst in the NFL behind Jacksonville.  Despite those numbers, the Bucs scored 17 points last week against Philadelphia… in the first half! With Tony Romo quietly having a Pro Bowl-caliber season (leading the NFC in completion percentage and passer rating), along with a receiving group that is really clicking, expect the Dallas passing attack to often exploit an Eagles defense that ranks last in the NFC giving up 315 yards a game through the air.

4. Which struggle continues: Cowboys road woes or Eagles home problems?  All three of the Cowboys losses this season have come away from AT&T Stadium.  I’m sure that’s frustrating for Jason Garrett, but those problems are miniscule in comparison to what Chip Kelly is facing.  Dating back to last season, Philadelphia has lost eight straight games at home, tied for the longest home losing streak in Eagles franchise history.  

Game knowledge that will impress your friends

The Cowboys have played the Eagles more than any other team (108 times)… Both Dallas and Philadelphia have three losses, and all three defeats have come against the same teams (San Diego, Kansas City, and Denver)… If Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware misses Sunday’s game (strained quad), it will be his first missed game of his nine-year career… Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is the NFL’s leading rusher (630 rushing yards) and already has three 100-yard rushing games through five weeks… Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey is tied for the NFC lead with 25 touchbacks this season... The Cowboys have beaten the Eagles two straight times, and in three of their last five meetings… Cowboys kick returner Dwayne Harris’s 222 return yards against the Redskins were the third most in a game in franchise history… The winner of this game has sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

Prediction

While both teams are struggling stopping anybody, I tend to believe the Cowboys defense is a tad better than Philadelphia’s.  Both teams will score often, but I think the Cowboys will score a bit more often.  Give me Dallas on the road to beat the Eagles, 38-27.
 

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