Posted on: January 6, 2010 1:24 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2010 9:11 pm
WILD CARD ROUND --- The Dallas Cowboys (3) and the Philadelphia Eagles (6) face off for the third time this season, and needless to say, this is the most important. The winner moves on in the surprisingly tough NFC playoffs, while the loser goes home with a lot of unanswered questions.
Leading up to their anticipated Week 17 matchup, both teams had momentum. The Eagles had won six straight games, their offense was looking unstoppable, and the defense was stepping up in the crucial moments. All looked good. On the other side, the Cowboys were coming off two very impressive performances. The first was a win against the then-undefeated New Orleans Saints; the second was a shutout performance of the Washington Redskins. The defense was looking strong, and Romo's woes in December had suddenly disappeared. Two hot teams facing each other, with the stakes high. An Eagles win gave them the #2 seed and a first round bye. A Cowboys win would ensure them home field advantage for at least their first game, and with help, a potential #2 seed for themselves.
The game turned out to be a party for the Cowboys. From the beginning, the Eagles' defense could not stop the run. Marion Barber and Felix Jones began slicing through the injury-riddled defense of Philadelphia. Tony Romo began to find his groove early on, as well. The Eagles offense never got anything going, and the game ended painfully... a 24-0 loss to the hated rival Dallas Cowboys.
This week, however, the Eagles can start fresh. A win vs. the Cowboys this Saturday night and the Week 17 loss will be forgotten. A loss vs. the Cowboys this Saturday night and the Cowboys are 3-0 vs. the Eagles in the 2009-2010 season, a mark that will not be forgotten in seasons to come.
The Cowboys are the favorites to win this game, and a big reason why they are favored is because of their defense. The defense shut down New Orleans in the upset, held Washington to zero points, and then shut out the scoring hot Eagles offense. The defense's toughness starts up front with Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff. As it was last week, the matchup of Ratliff vs. inexperienced Philadelphia center Nick Cole will be a big key to this game. Cole did a better job than most assumed he would last week vs. Ratliff, but this week could very well be another story.
To stop the Cowboys, the main player that must the stopped is the quarterback, Tony Romo. At the end of the day, Romo is the man leading the Cowboys to victory. To stop Romo, the secondary must obviously play a great game. However, I think getting pressure on him is the more effecient way of flustering Romo. In Week 17, Tony Romo had all the time to throw the ball, as the Eagles' defense got minimal pressure throughout the game. With all of this time, Romo easily found Miles Austin, Jason Witten, and Patrick Crayton throughout the game and in the clutch situations. Romo got through the dreaded month of December, and while it started out scary, by the end of the month most Cowboy fans are trusting Romo to get the job done.
The main man I expect to see stepping it up for Philadelphia is defensive end Trent Cole. Cole is the best pass rusher on the Eagles' defense, as well as the leader. For the Eagles to have a chance in this game, they must stop Tony Romo. To stop Tony Romo, they must bring pressure on him. To bring pressure on him, they need their best pass rusher to step up their game, and that man is Trent Cole. If Cole and the Eagles defense can get to Romo early, I see him making some bad decisions that feisty cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown may be able to take advantage of.
Miles Austin has been one of the pleasant surprises this season for the Dallas Cowboys, and has made a name for himself as one of the big play threats in the NFL. Austin faces one of the best cornerback tandems in the league of All-Pro corner Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown. For Austin to be shut down in this matchup, the Eagles' corners need to cotinue their stellar play.
It's already been mentioned, but the matchup between center Nick Cole of the Eagles and nose tackle Jay Ratliff of the Cowboys is a very important one. Ratliff had a quiet game in Week 17, but chances of him being that quiet this Saturday are slim. The stakes are higher and I expect the same of Ratliff's level of play.
Eagles' defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has done a nice job of calling the defense in his first season taking over for the late Jim Johnson, but how will he fare vs. a great playcaller in the Cowboys' Jason Garrett. Garrett has more experience, but look for McDermott to do a solid job with the defense.
Eagles vs. Cowboys Stadium is also a huge matchup that no one is talking about. In Week 17, it certainly looked like there were some nerves in the Eagles' players, playing in Cowboy Stadium. The crowd can really help Dallas in this game, as it did last week.
Keys to the Game
For the Eagles, the main thing they have to do is get going early, offensively and defensively. They will be nervous, knowing that they are the underdogs and playing possibly the hottest team in the NFC. If the Eagles can get going early, however, they will forget about the critics and just go out there and play. If not, I see them losing confidence quickly, as it seems they did in Week 17.
For the Cowboys, the main key is stopping the Eagles' big plays. They did a great job in Week 17, and if they can keep it up in this game, look for them to have a huge advantage. DeSean Jackson is at his best when he's making the big plays, something he hasn't been able to do vs. the Cowboys this season.
Donovan McNabb does not like losing, and I think he'll come out with fire in this game. Look for him, along with tight end Brent Celek, to have big games for the Eagles on offense. The Cowboys' defense has shut down DeSean Jackson well this season, and I see them slowing him down this game as well. With Jackson being bottled up, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant have to have big games.
As a diehard Eagles fan it's hard to go against them, but I like the Dallas Cowboys in this game. They are hot at the right time, and it's not just one particular unit. The offense is on fire, and very balanced. Marion Barber and Felix Jones can slice and dice through that plagued Eagles' defense, while Tony Romo has great targets to get the ball to. The Cowboys' defense is aggressive, and they haven't allowed any points in the last two games vs. NFC East competition.
There you have it... should be a great game, one that I am looking very forward to. While the Cowboys are the frontrunners to win this game, the Eagles have what it takes to not only win this game, but advance deep into the postseason. I made my prediction of the Cowboys to win the game, but here's to hoping that I am dreadfully wrong. :p
Posted on: September 8, 2008 11:00 pm
Well I will have to say this. Watching this game really made me believe that the Eagles are as talented as any team in the NFL. Sure, it was the Rams, but the Rams are an NFL team that has some talent as well, and to me a win is a win. But that was no win the Eagles got on Sunday... that was a thrashing. Every facet of the game was beautiful. The chemistry was there, the response, the defense was pumped up, the signals were understood and executed properly, and the Philadelphia Eagles are now officially "in the hunt".
I myself was a Donnie Mac doubter, but after the Rams game it is hard to continue doubting. By no means do the Rams have a daunting defense, but McNabb really played his heart out in one of the best games he's had for awhile. DeSean Jackson impressed me as well, not only as a receiver but as a kickoff returner and punt returner. I see good things from this kid.
The defense was superb. Bulger was under pressure all day, no room for Steven Jackson to bust out a big run, and Holt was shut down by the secondary. The ends and linebackers are impressing me already, not to mention the corners. Jim Johnson as well.
All in all, very impressed and looking forward to a fun game against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night!
And for now, that is all.
To be continued...
Posted on: May 30, 2008 10:29 pm
Week 1: vs. St.Louis
Posted on: January 27, 2008 4:20 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2009 9:17 am
Super Bowl XLII: New England Patriots vs. New York Giants
The Patriots and Giants will face off in Superbowl XLII, which should be a very exciting game. This is truly a remarkable run for the Giants, who looked like a lost cause after the first two games of the season. Their season was off and on until the last part of the season, where everything started coming together. The Giants came into Wild Card Weekend, not sure what to expect from themselves or the Bucs. However, they pulled out a nice win. Next, they went to Dallas. Dallas had swept the regular season series, 2-0. Once again, the Giants pulled out a win, secured by Romo, who threw an interception to end the game. The Giants then had to go to freezing conditions to play the Packers, who were favorites to win. But, for the third time, the Giants pulled off the upset, and suddenly Eli Manning was in the Superbowl. For the Patriots, it was too easy. 16-0 in the regular season, then they beat Jacksonville and San Diego in the playoffs. However, their hardest game in the regular season was against these same NY Giants, who at one point had a two possesion lead, only to later blow it. Still, it helped the Giants get where they are now. The Giants go into this game full with confidence, and the Patriots go into this game with the 'no one can beat us' attitude, that has actually helped them so far. The Giants are underdogs once again, and they like it. They like being the Cinderella story of the NFL, the team everyone counted out. I think this game comes down to one big factor: Can the Giants secondary stop Tom Brady? If they can, Maroney won't be able to pull out a win. I think the Giants should and will take the same approach the Chargers did last week, resulting in three interecptions for number 12. I think the Giants also need to not be afraid to take chances. Going for fourth downs, fake punts, and trick plays can really help them. And of course, the two headed monster of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw will really help them attack the Patriots. With all of the factors studied and understood, I say the Giants complete this season the way no one expected: winning the Superbowl. I think the passion they're playing with right now cannot be stopped by any team, including New England. I think Tom Brady will make mistakes, and I think the Giants will take advantage of that.
Superbowl XLII Prediction:
NY Giants 34, New England 28