LAST time these two teams met, Dallas won 29-23 in overtime. It was a road game for the Eagles. This one will be played here, on (are you fucking kidding me?) New Years Day. I don’t know what genius decided to put the Cowboys in South Philly on New Years Day, but I’m pretty sure that they’re trying to generate a headline or twenty. This really does feel like someone in the NFL is trying to put the Cowboys in harm’s way. This sort of scheduling should never be allowed to happen again. Ever.
Most teams who come to Philly stay at the Loews hotel on Market street. That’s some 30-odd blocks north of the stadium. Most weeks it’s no big deal, but this is New Years Day. The Cowboy’s team bus has to make it from the hotel to the stadium, past South Philly revelers who’ve been up drinking, (and God knows what else) all night long. That bus has to make through 20+ residential blocks, filled with generations of blue collar, die-hards. It only takes a few bad apples to make a city look bad, but on that day with all the celebrating, there could be be more than just a few bad apple this time. A lot more.
Under these very unique circumstances, if the Cowboys make it to the game without incident, I will consider the day a success. Especially given the Mummers judging going on (with 100’s of people watching), just 3 blocks away from the Cowboys hotel. This is a recipe for a potential public relations disaster.
As far at the actual game goes, neither team stands to gain anything from winning this match-up, but both teams will be playing their starters anyway. I’ll be damned if I know why. This is a situation that is all risk and no reward. BUT, since it seems like Head Coach Doug Pederson wants wins to close out the year.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to look for, Week 17 versus Dallas :
1) Get pressure on QB Dak Prescott. We got more pressure on him than he was used to facing and in the process we made the rookie phenom look damned ordinary. We’ll need to repeat that formula.
2) Keep containment. We allowed ourselves to pulled out of alignment and played undisciplined on the edges. The result was a room for Dallas runners to roam between the Tackles. We need to constrict those interior lanes, especially given that the Dallas RB is only effective when running behind his pads.
3) Run the ball directly at DE Randy Gregory. He’s not very stout and coming off of a long suspension, he’s got fresh legs, but his endurance isn’t back yet. So wear him down, while working the clock and neutering their pass rush.
4) Show blitz. Even if we don’t bring it often, showing the blitz right over TE Jason Witten will keep him in as a blocker and take away a major security blanket for the QB, as well as the Cowboys second leading receiver.
If we won this game with back-ups it would be great, but winning it with starters is meaningless. Meanwhile, a loss here would help us move up a spot or two (starting in the second round) of the 2017 Draft, while a win might cause us to slide back a spot or two. As far as I’m concerned Dallas can have the meaningless win. if we were smart we’d play for the future. We’ll see how it shakes out on Sunday.