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This Thursday on Thanksgiving, while I will be enjoying my turkey and stuffing, my mood will be determined by the outcome of the Philadelphia Eagles game. The possible victory will taste even sweeter (if it happens) than the pumpkin pie because it’ll be against the Dallas Cowboys. The rivalry has been reignited in recent years, pretty much since the mid-to-end of the McNabb era. He went up against Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo numerous times. Both times having their own success. The Eagles highlight of recent years was probably 2008. The two teams met Week 17. The Eagles needed two teams to lose, which they did. All the Birds had to do was win their game and they’d clinch the #6 seed. The Eagles dominated the game and won 44-6. The next year was the Cowboys turn. The two teams met down in Jerry Jones Stadium in Week 17 to determine the winner of the NFC East, the Boys won 24-0. To add insult to injury, the two teams faced on in the Wildcard round of the playoffs and Romo led the team to a 34-14 victory.

Another chapter was added to the rivalry last year. The two teams met Week 17 with the division on the line. The Eagles were 9-6 and the Cowboys 8-7, and with a victory the Cowboys would own the tiebreaker. Romo was sidelined with a back injury and backup Kyle Orton was forced to start in his place. He did well and put his team in position to win the game. But a failed two-point conversion and then a late game interception ended the game with the Eagles ahead 24-22. The next chapter in the rivalry will take place Thursday.

Prior to this season, this game wasn’t expected to mean much. Pretty much every analyst picked the Eagles to win this division and they also predicted the Cowboys to be pretty bad. Their defense was expected to be historically bad with the losses of DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee among others. But defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli had done miraculous things with the players he has. They have exceeded every expectation. The defense has truly been the reason this team has done well. They currently sit at 8-3, and that record would easily be 3-8 if the defense was as bad as people anticipated.

The Cowboys offense has never been questioned, and this year it has taken many steps to become a top tier offense. Romo’s long time favorite target, tight end Jason Witten, has regressed but he is 32 so it wasn’t a surprise. On the other hand, star wide receiver Dez Bryant has quietly played very well. He has 10 touchdown receptions in the 11 games the Cowboys have played, and 6 in the past 4 games. In the team’s past two games, he has 13 receptions for 244 yards and 4 touchdowns. Across from Bryant, is second yard receiver Terrance Williams. He has not played of late, but is still a threat.

 

The team’s biggest offensive weapon without a doubt lines up in the backfield, DeMarco Murray. Murray has been amazing. He’s playing like the best back in the league. Murray is the only back to have rushed for over 1,000 yards, and he’s already rushed for 1,354 yards. Murray has rushed for over 100 yards in every game except one. He’s also tied for third with seven rushing touchdowns, but he hasn’t had one in the team’s past four games. On a side note, Murray has rushed the ball 268 times. That’s 51 more than second place on the list, and 72 more rushes than the back that’s third in carries. With 268 carries through 11 games, that means he’s on pace to carry the ball 387 times. In comparison, last year the leading carrier only rushed the ball 315 times.

 

The Philadelphia Eagles were predicted to be a good team and they have lived up to that expectation. The team isn’t great. Philadelphia has accomplished a goal of every team’s: beat up on the crappy teams. The Eagles are currently 8-3. 7 of those 8 wins have come against teams with sub-.500 records. The combined record of those seven teams is 21-55-1 for a win percentage of .272. Their only win against a team with a winning record was Week 2 when they won with a last second field goal in Indianapolis.
 

The Eagles three losses have come against good teams, teams with playoff aspirations. The team’s first loss of the season came against the 49ers. The game was close the whole way but the Eagles could not overcome some crucial turnovers. Their next loss came at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles were in a good position to win the game but one blown coverage cost them the game. Since then, Arizona has lost their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer; but backup Drew Stanton has played well. This team is led by its top tier defense. Philadelphia’s most recent loss was a blowout in Lambeau Field against the Packers. The Eagles were never in the game and right now Aaron Rodgers looks unstoppable.
 

The Philadelphia Eagles team has not faced many injuries this season, but the few they’ve had, have been crucial. Within one game, against the Texans, the team lost its quarterback on offense and defense. Nick Foles was tackled awkwardly on his collarbone and it broke. Realistically, his season is over. It’s Mark Sanchez’s time to prove to the world what he’s got. That same game, the defense lost its leader in DeMeco Ryans. Ryans was a stout linebacker that truly understood the game. The defense has felt his loss. Since Ryans’ injury the team has let up 21, 53, and 24 points. The defense needs to step up and get stops.

 

As the season has progressed, different offensive weapons have stepped up. In the beginning of the season star running back LeSean McCoy struggled. But in his past two games, Shady has rushed for 218 yards and a touchdown. During McCoy’s struggles in the beginning of the season, Darren Sproles played extremely well. In the team’s first two games, Sproles combined for 97 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 166 receiving yards. The Eagles’ number one receiver Jeremy Maclin has played exceptionally well after an ACL tear that ended his season last year before it ever began. He’s had three games with over 150 receiving yards and in those games he’s had 5 touchdowns. In total, Maclin is in 11th with 63 receptions, seventh in receiving yards with 980, and is tied for third with 9 touchdown catches. Rookie Jordan Matthews has emerged as the team’s number two option. In the Eagles’ last four games, Matthews has 362 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.


When these two teams meet up on Thursday it will be an offensive game. Both teams have strong offenses that like to put up points and throw the ball down the field. Both teams will try and control the tempo of the game and hold onto the ball by running it. The defense that can force the other team off the ball on 3rd downs will win the game. 3rd down conversions will dictate who wins. When the game actually starts, the Eagles will just be too much for the Cowboys. Philadelphia’s offense has too many weapons and Marinelli’s defense won’t be able to contain them. Dallas will keep the game close for the most part but the deficit will grow. In the most anticipated game for each of these team’s seasons, the Eagles will win 34-24.

Football