Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5, 56 o/u)
On Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys squandered a great opportunity to gain the upperhand in the race for the NFC East title. Dallas fans looked on in familiar horror as their team was demolished 33-10 by the Eagles at home, and fell to second in the division. Tonight, the Cowboys will get a second chance when they meet Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday Night Football (5:30 p.m. Eastern).
Last weekend, the Seahawks did Dallas a huge favor by handing Philly its first home loss of the season. Dallas held serve on Thursday against Chicago, putting both teams at 9-4 entering week 15.
The Eagles own the tiebreaker with Dallas thanks to the head-to-head win and, thus, currently hold the division lead. A win on Sunday would all but guarantee a second straight division title for the Eagles (who would need just one win over the Giants or Redskins in the final two weeks of the season to clinch).
While the home loss to the Eagles inevitably looks like a missed opportunity for Dallas, the reality is that the Cowboys are a much better road team than home team this year. They are just 3-4 in Dallas, but a perfect 6-0 away from home.
To stay perfect tonight, the Cowboys will need a much better performance from their offensive line than it produced in the Thanksgiving game. Tony Romo was sacked four times in the game and running back DeMarco Murray, who leads the league in rushing yards by a wide margin, had by far his worst game of the year, gaining just 73 yards on the ground.
That was just the latest in a string of subpar games for Murray against the Eagles. The former Oklahoma Sooner has failed to crack the 100 yard mark in four tries against Philly.
The Eagles offense struggled last week against Seattle, managing only 139 yards of total offense. For the first time since he took over for Nick Foles, quarterback Mark Sanchez looked dismal, passing for just 89 yards on the day. The former New York Jet also threw one interception and was sacked three times.
But the Cowboys’ defense is not Seattle’s and Sanchez stands a good chance of getting back on track tonight. Dallas has been particularly bad against the pass, sitting 25th in the league.
Last weekend, the Cowboys got a huge monkey off their back by earning their ninth win of the season (for the first time since 2009). But it’s incredibly difficult to go through an entire NFL season without losing on the road (the last team to do it was the 2007-08 New England Patriots, who went 16-0 on the year). Dallas’ luck is bound to run out at some point, and tonight may just be the night. Look for the Eagles to win and move a hair’s breadth away from the division title.
(Photo credit: Billy Bob Bain (flickr) “DSC_9553” [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)