The final game of the 2013 NFL regular season will be the decider in the NFC East between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, playing for the right to make the playoffs and win the division.
The game was bumped to the Sunday night slot because of the NFC East thing. The teams may not be the best in the conference, but the Cowboys just might be the most followed NFL team in the nation, and generally, ratings go up when there’s a battle within the division.
One thing that does hurt the game is Tony Romo not playing. His back pain was too much for him to suit up, and the injections to reduce it didn’t help. The Cowboys go into the game with Kyle Orton under center, a player who hasn’t started a game since 2011. The Eagles, on the other hand, start with Nick Foles, a player who began the season as a backup but statistically just might be the best quarterback in the league, throwing 25 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions.
So with Foles standing in front of them, the terrible Dallas Cowboys defense, playing without Sean Lee, is in more trouble than usual. Yes, Dallas managed to do a great job on Foles and the Eagles in the 17-3 win earlier in the season, but with their defense allowing 417.9 yards per game, including 290.7 passing yards per game (31st in the NFL), there’s a good chance it’ll take more than just Orton doing a lot better than anyone expects him to.
The Eagles aren’t exactly a juggernaut on defense, ranked 30th in passing yards allowed per game, but the key here will be stopping the run, because it’s safe to assume we’ll see the Dallas Cowboys trying to involve DeMarco Murray, who has ran for 1073 yards this season, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, a lot more than usual. The Eagles are third in the NFL when it comes to yards per carry defense, allowing teams only 3.8 each rush.
Prediction – Both teams have very bad defenses, but the one edge the Dallas Cowboys had over the Eagles heading into the game was at quarterback. Now, with Orton’s limited passing ability and rustiness, it’s hard to see the Cowboys winning unless Murray and the defense have a monster performance.