In the Sunday night game of the week the Philadelphia Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys in a crucial game in the NFC East.
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The NFL is investigating why Tony Romo has not been on the Dallas Cowboys’ injury report with a rib injury the quarterback claimed he has played with for nearly two months, league spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to ESPN.
Romo said after Thursday night’s 41-28 win against the Chicago Bears that he was playing with a broken rib. However, multiple sources say Romo misspoke and that he had torn rib cartilage, not a break.
The quarterback said he was unsure when he suffered the rib injury, but a source said it came when he took a big hit from Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner in the first series of the Cowboys’ 30-23 win Oct. 12. Romo did not miss a snap in that game.
According to the NFL’s injury report policy, “All players with significant or noteworthy injuries must be listed on the report, even if the player takes all the reps in practice, and even if the team is certain that he will play in the upcoming game.”
A team is subject to a fine if the league finds it did not comply with its injury report rules. In 2009, the New York Jets were assessed $125,000 in fines for failing to put quarterback Brett Favre on the injury report after he revealed he played the final month of the 2008 season with a torn biceps tendon.
Romo has been listed on the injury report all season because of his back.
When the Dallas Cowboys walked out of AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving night, they could not have been more despondent.
When they show up for work on Tuesday, they should be as pleased as possible because they know this: win their final three games and they will win the NFC East for the first time since 2009.
Thanks to the Seattle Seahawks beating the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the Cowboys’ rematch with the Eagles has the division on the line again.
Of course, Seattle’s win leaves the Cowboys with little margin for error the rest of the way because they are out of the playoffs at the moment because the Seahawks and Detroit Lions, also 9-4, own the tiebreaker over the Cowboys. Dallas’ win at Seattle earlier this season is moot in a three-way tie.
The Cowboys could find themselves out of the playoffs even if they win 11 games. That has happened only twice: the 1985 Denver Broncos and the 2008 New England Patriots.
Former Cowboys assistant coach Tony Sparano, now the interim coach for the Oakland Raiders, did the Cowboys a favor by beating the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The Niners beat the Cowboys in the season opener and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, but if the Cowboys reach 11 wins, that won’t matter.
The Lions play the Minnesota Vikings and close the year at the Chicago Bears and at the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys have to hope the Packers have something to play for in the finale so they don’t rest their regulars. Or hope the Vikings or Bears can pull an upset.
All of this is meaningless to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, or at least so he says. He lives in a day-to-day world, but he also says it is his job to give the players a perspective on what is ahead. Does he even address this when he talks to the team on Tuesday or does he just talk about the Eagles?
The guess is he focuses on LeSean McCoy, Fletcher Cox and Chip Kelly, not all of the scenarios that could possibly affect his team in the final three weeks.
How many times has Garrett said the Cowboys worry about only what they can control? Thanks to the Seahawks, the Cowboys do not control everything.
Win their last three, and they are in. It’s pretty simple.
THE REMAINING ROAD TO THE PLAYOFFS
At New York Giants
Vs. San Francisco
Vs. St. Louis
A few thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles’ 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field.
What it means: The Eagles are not among the NFC’s elite teams. They are 0-4 against playoff-caliber, non-divisional NFC opponents. This was their last chance to get a quality conference win this season, and they fell short. As advertised, the defending champions played tight physical defense that all but smothered Chip Kellyâ€™s offense. While the Eagles defense played well at times, it saw firsthand how a brief lapse in discipline can be deadly against a high-quality opponent. For all their work on containing Russell Wilson, the Eagles let the Seattle quarterback stroll around left end for a 26-yard touchdown. The Eagles might have the Dallas Cowboys’ number, as they showed on Thanksgiving Day, but they have a gap to close with Seattle, Green Bay, Arizona and San Francisco.
Stock Watch: Chip Kellyâ€™s stock trades at whatever price his offense sets, and Kellyâ€™s offense was not especially creative or effective against the Seahawks. Kelly was seen shouting at the officials a lot, but none of them called a timeout that gave Seattle extra time on a field-goal drive at the end of the first half. Kelly did, after going very conservative in his play-calling and giving the Seahawks the ball with 1:34 on the clock. When Kellyâ€™s no-huddle offense is clicking, as it was in Dallas, it puts great pressure on the opposing defense. When it isnâ€™t, it puts great pressure on the Eaglesâ€™ defense. Seattle benefited from that pressure all game.
No offense: This was talked about as a measuring stick game for Kellyâ€™s team, especially his offense. When someone pointed out the Eagles had scored at least 24 points in their nine wins this season, Kelly cracked, â€œI hope we score 24, then.â€ They scored 14, their lowest total of the season. Mark Sanchez threw an interception on the first offensive play, after the Eagles forced a Seattle turnover. LeSean McCoy set the franchise rushing record and passed Wilbert Montgomery, but he only got 50 yards on 17 carries. Sanchez threw for fewer than 100 yards. There was no sign of the machine that rolled over mediocre defenses earlier in the season.
Game ball: Defensive end Fletcher Cox has been playing well all season. His teammates are quick to point that out. But Cox gave his most impressive performance and made a total of 10 tackles as the Eagles dealt with the twin threats posed by Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson.
Whatâ€™s next: The Eagles finish the regular season with games against their three NFC East rivals. It starts at home next Sunday against the Cowboys in a game that will go a long way toward deciding the NFC East champion. After a Saturday game at Washington, the Eagles finish the season at the Meadowlands against the New York Giants. If they can win out, the Eagles can finish 12-4 and avoid a road playoff game for at least a week. After the Seattle game, that seems mighty important.
DeMarco Murray established career highs in carries (32) and catches (nine) in the Dallas Cowboys’ 41-28 win against the Chicago Bears, continuing a trend of heavy use the entire season but coach Jason Garrett doesnâ€™t see Murray slowing down.
â€œDeMarco is a guy who has shown he can handle the workload, both as a runner and a receiver,â€ Garrett said. â€œHe wants more. He never wants to come out of the game. At different times, weâ€™ve done a good job of getting the other guys in there and theyâ€™ve taken advantages of their opportunities and weâ€™ll continue to do that, but heâ€™s a bellcow player and it doesnâ€™t look like heâ€™s slowing down at all to me. He feels great. He says he feels great and really looks like heâ€™s playing at a very high level.â€
Murray leads the NFL with 320 carries and 1,606 yards. He has also equaled his career high in catches with 53 for 392 yards.
Garrett said the use had more to do with Chicagoâ€™s scheme than a specific plan to get Murray the ball that much.
â€œThat used to happen a lot with Emmitt [Smith] back in the day,â€ Garrett said. â€œWhen youâ€™d go play the Giants, they play a lot of Cover 2 and Emmitt would carry the ball a lot and theyâ€™d be trying to take the outside receivers away and weâ€™d dump the ball down a lot. That was a little bit of the game the other night, whether it was all Cover 2 or not, there was a softness to their coverage where they werenâ€™t going to give up a lot of big plays and Tony [Romo] did a good job of checking the ball down.
After limiting Murrayâ€™s snaps a little by using Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar more, the backup runners have combined for just five carries in the last three games. Garrett said the coaches monitor the work and will sit a player at their discretion.
The Cowboys report back to work Tuesday for the first time since the Bearsâ€™ win. Garrett believes the break will help Murray and the entire team.
â€œNo special advice,â€ Garrett said. â€œJust get away from it a little bit, get yourself refreshed, recharged and get ready to get back to work.â€
Tony Romo already holds virtually every significant passing record in Dallas Cowboys’ history.
It’s unlikely he’ll be adding any single-season records to his list of achievements this season — and that’s a positive.
Through 13 games, the Cowboys have made it clear the offense revolves DeMarco Murray.
Actually, Romo ranks 22nd in attempts — he hasn’t thrown more than 29 passes in six consecutive games, the longest streak of his career — and 15th in yards (2,923) this season.
Given that, we really shouldn’t be surprised Romo has just one 300-yard game this season. Understand, Romo has a franchise-record 45 career 300-yard games in his career.
Romo has gone seven games since his last 300-yard game, tying the longest streak of his career. And he’s never had fewer 300-yard games as a starter, except in 2010 when he broke his collarbone and played just six games.
The key to the Cowboys’ success this season has been offensive balance because they use the run to protect their defense and set up play-action passes.
The Cowboys have run the ball 49 percent of the time, the third highest ratio in the league this season. In 2013, the Cowboys ran it 35.1 percent of the time, which ranked 29th in the NFL.
That formula has the Cowboys 9-4 and tied for first place in the NFC East.
At this point of his career, Romo has said all he cares about is winning, which makes sense. He holds a bunch of franchise records, has played in numerous Pro Bowls and has a contract worth more than $100 million.
All he wants is playoff success. Continuing to throw less will help him achieve it.
If the Dallas Cowboys don’t find a way to stop LeSean McCoy on Sunday night, they have virtually no chance to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.
Two weeks ago, McCoy rushed for 159 yards on 25 carries against the Cowboys. In the final game of the 2013 season with a playoff berth on the line, McCoy rushed for 131 yards on 27 carries.
No surprise, the Eagles won both of those games.
When Dallas beat Philadelphia, 17-3, on Oct. 20, 2013, McCoy had 18 carries for 55 yards.
“LeSean McCoy is a great football player and if you don’t play good sound defense and let that guy get outside he’s going to make you pay for it,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve done that in the past, other times we haven’t and he’s had big games against us.”
If the Cowboys don’t control McCoy and the Eagles’ running game, then it opens up Philadelphia’s big-play passing game, which comes off run fakes. The Cowboys know what they have to do to stop Philadelphia’s running game, it’s executing the plan that’s difficult.
Stopping Philadelphia’s running game is all about the defensive linemen maintaining gap integrity, which means filling the gap you’re supposed to fill — even if it means not making the tackle. That’s what takes away the cutback lanes McCoy is so good at finding.
But the most important thing the Cowboys have to do is play strong on the perimeter. Outside linebackers Anthony Hitchens, Bruce Carter and Kyle Wilber have to force McCoy inside where they have help and the Cowboys can gang tackle.
When he gets outside, McCoy is too hard to stop because he’s terrific in the open field thanks to a litany of moves. Against Chicago, the Cowboys limited dangerous RB Matt Forte to 26 yards on 13 carries with a long of seven.
“I thought we did a really good job defending the run and I think they came into the ballgame wanting to run the football,” Garrett said. “It was important for us to slow them down.
“I thought our guys did a good job having gap discipline, setting edges, tackling and running to the ball — all of the things you need to do to play good run defense. There are some critical things that you have to do when you play this team. They were able to get to the edges and get into space and that’s where they’re most effective.”
The Dallas Cowboys will be out for revenge on Sunday Night Football in Week 15 as they break a deadlock atop the NFC East standings with the Philadelphia Eagles when the division rivals hit the gridiron together at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles topped the Cowboys 33-10 as a 3-point road underdog on the NFL betting lines in their first meeting of the season on November 27 in an UNDER result. Heading into Week 15, however, the Eagles and Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East at 9-4 SU on the season, and the teams are also all square at 5-5 both SU and ATS in their last 10 meetings dating back to 2010. The UNDER has gone 3-0 in their three most recent matchups.
The Philadelphia Eagles currently sport a record of 9-4, and have posted a corresponding betting slate of 9-4 ATS. The Dallas Cowboys are 9-4 and 7-6 ATS. Betting totals have seen the Philadelphia Eagles post a 8-5 over under record this season, while the Dallas Cowboys have gone 7-5-1 against the number.
– How Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles Stats Matchup
The game also pits Philadelphia’s No. 4-ranked offense, averaging 29.92 PPG, against a Cowboys defense that ranks No. 17 this week at 23.15 PPG. The Eagles aerial game is averaging 270.31 yards per game, more than the Cowboys secondary allows through the air, 251.92 YPG per game.
In comparing defenses, the Dallas Cowboys own the league’s No. 3-rated front 7 in terms of stopping the run, allowing 79.67 yards per game when on the road. Philadelphia, on the other hand, rates No. 14 this week in generating rushing yards at home.
– Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles Betting Odds Trends
Dallas is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games
Dallas is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games
Dallas is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
Dallas is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Philadelphia is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games
Philadelphia is 16-6 SU in its last 22 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Philadelphia’s last 6 games
Philadelphia is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home
The Philadelphia Eagles find themselves in a tumultuous stretch, complete with crucial wins, convincing defeats and a backup under center.
Entering a pivotal game with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, that turmoil could either grow significantly louder or fall silent.
Philadelphia (9-4) won 33-10 in Dallas on Thanksgiving, setting itself up to claim the tiebreaker over the Cowboys (9-4) and move within one victory of its second consecutive NFC East title.
“I think they’re going to do what they do, and we’re going to do what we do,” coach Chip Kelly said. “Hopefully we can be as successful again, but I know they’re going to give us their best shot. I think that will be a really interesting matchup, their O-line versus our D-line.”
The defensive front got the best of Dallas’ offensive line in the first meeting, as the Eagles sacked Tony Romo four times and held NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray to a season-low 73 yards.
That pressure allowed Mark Sanchez to win the quarterback duel with Romo. Sanchez, in his fourth start since Nick Foles went down with a collarbone injury Nov. 2, was 20 of 29 for 217 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Sanchez, however, failed to carry the momentum from that victory as Philadelphia fell 24-14 to visiting Seattle last Sunday. The offense sputtered to 139 total yards – the team’s lowest mark since Oct. 9, 2005 – with the blame falling on both sides of the ball.
Sanchez notched his lowest passer rating of the season (76.8), while the defense allowed the Seahawks to hold the ball for a franchise-record 41 minutes, 56 seconds.
“We’ve usually done a better job cleaning the pocket. But I think he missed a couple of throws, too, and he’ll be the first to tell you that,” Kelly said. “In everything, I think when you play a game like this, it doesn’t fall on anybody’s one shoulder. It falls on everybody and collectively we have to own it.”
The offensive struggles for Philadelphia are unlikely to continue against the Cowboys, who rank 25th in the NFL with 251.9 passing yards allowed per game and – despite a serviceable run defense (113.1 ypg) – surrendered 256 yards on the ground to the Eagles in Week 13.
Instead, Philadelphia can expect an improved Dallas offense, which produced one of its two sub-300-yard performances in the past 19 games in the last meeting.
“We are a running team that makes it difficult because we can throw it at a high rate, and we can be aggressive with it,” Romo told the Cowboys’ official website. “We have a very good nucleus, and these guys have to put their egos at the door for us to really be successful. And, they all have.
“It’s a really special thing because it’s not always that way.”
Murray, who has 1,606 rushing yards, enters off a season-best 179 in a 41-28 win at Chicago last Thursday. Still, he has never topped 100 yards in four career matchups with Philadelphia.
Dallas believe that the fresh memories of the Thanksgiving loss should play a role in improving this time around.
“The tendencies and things that you learn from all those previous games are already there, so you’re just building on top of that,” center Travis Frederick said. “It might even give you an advantage, because they can’t have changed that much in two weeks. There are going to be adjustments, but the team is the team at this point.”
The Cowboys have clinched their first nine-win season since going 11-5 in 2009, the last time they won the NFC East.
Lincoln Financial Field has served as a welcoming host for the Cowboys. They’ve won two straight and four of five there, and this season own a 6-0 record on the road.
“That game on Thanksgiving means nothing to this game right now,” Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “Every team that has beat us so far this year, we’d love to have another shot at, because we believe if we play better we can beat anybody.
“And they believe the same thing coming into this game.”
*Keys to the game: Eagles coaches believe a healthier Dallas team is coming to town this week than the one they faced on Thanksgiving. The Eagles could be a little worse for wear after a beatdown from the Seahawks that was worse than the 24-14 final indicated.
QB Mark Sanchez wonâ€™t mind seeing the Cowboysâ€™ secondary step into his home stadium, not after he roasted that defense inside, outside and all points between in the first matchup. WR Riley Cooper played a big role in that game, and the Cowboys never truly solved RBs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles on the two-deep zone-busting swing passes.
Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys werenâ€™t ready for the exhausting tempo in the first meeting. The everlasting essential to road success is RB DeMarco Murray, who had 179 rushing yards at Chicago last week and has 100-plus on the ground in 11 of 13 games this season. Eight in the box for the Eagles limited Murray to 73 yards with a long of nine Thanksgiving Day, when the Eagles tightly checked TE Jason Witten and QB Tony Romo shied away from one-on-one shots downfield. The Eagles are 26th in the NFL in pass defense and have allowed 26 touchdown passes.
*Matchup to watch â€“ McCoy vs. Cowboys MLB Rolando McClain: The Eagles rushed for 256 yards in last monthâ€™s game and McCoy showed great speed and quickness in easily separating from McClain in the open field.
*Player spotlight â€“ Cowboys LT Tyron Smith: Eagles pass rusher Connor Barwin, who leads the NFC in sacks with 13.5, will line up over Smith. The Cowboys allowed four sacks in the first meeting and need to keep the pocket clean for Romo to thrive.
*Fast facts: The Eagles have an NFL-worst 30 turnovers. â€¦ The past seven Seattle opponents lost the week after playing the Seahawks. â€¦ Romo has a 100-plus QB rating in five straight road games.
Cowboys linebacker Dekoda Watson (hamstring) is out and defensive tackle Josh Brent (calf, doubtful) probably wonâ€™t play. Quarterback Nick Foles (collarbone) is still out for the Eagles, who listed everyone else on the injury report as probable for Sunday nightâ€™s NFC East clash.