Hastings. Waterloo. Midway. Gettysburg. Yorktown. Stalingrad. Where will tonight’s game fit into the list of the greatest battles in history?
Eagles at Cowboys for the NFC East title has the makings of an epic battle. But you take out Tony Romo and Sean Lee and things change a bit. You also have the Eagles playing better football right now. Dallas is at home, but reportedly they haven’t sold all their tickets and Eagles fans might neutralize any home field advantage Dallas expected to have. The battle looks more and more one-sided.
Make it even simpler. The Eagles are the better team. Dallas is 8-7, but their wins aren’t impressive at all. They’ve only beaten one team with a winning record. This is the X-factor in the game….because the one team they beat was the Eagles.
Chances are that the earlier loss is an anomaly. The Eagles were struggling at home back then. Nick Foles was awful. The whole team played sloppy at times. But, what if Dallas is going to be the one team that is Nick Foles kryptonite? Every now and then we find a situation where a player struggles against a specific team and it doesn’t make a ton of sense.
As much as tonight is about the Eagles winning the division, it is also about Nick Foles redemption. We love him. We trust him. But I think we’ll all feel a heck of a lot better after he throws that first TD pass. We’re almost certain that the first game meant nothing, but go ahead and prove it so we can relax.
A few additional thoughts…
* Don’t be surprised if Dallas leads in the 1st Qtr 10-7 or something like that. Kyle Orton will have a ton of adrenaline early on. The defense might not be completely ready for him at the beginning of the game. As the game moves on, the defense will settle in and Orton is likely to struggle as they adjust to him and the Dallas gameplan.
* Expect the Eagles to use a lot of rub routes…crossing routes where receivers move in traffic and try to get DBs to bump into receivers or other defenders. The Skins gave Dallas fits last week with some of these.
* Jason Hatcher is the most disruptive Dallas defender. Blocking him is the key. Hopefully the up-tempo attack can wear him down.
* STs is going to be huge. I don’t anticipate Dallas stringing together long drives on a regular basis. It is imperative to keep Dwayne Harris from breaking long returns.
* Jimmy Bama and I had an interesting phone conversation this morning. First, he admitted I’m way cooler than him and that you should all go un-follow him on Twitter. Then we talked about how Bill Davis will approach Orton. Jimmy thinks the Eagles should be basic in the 1st quarter, then ramp up pressure later on. Why show Orton your best looks early? Also, if Orton is going to focus on getting the ball out quickly, why blitz him a ton? Just concentrate on making the tackle.
There is logic in Jimmy’s thinking. I just wonder if Davis will agree. Davis might prefer to attack all game long, with the hope that you never let Orton get into his comfort zone.
* Expect the Eagles to mix in stunts and loops. They worked well in the first meeting. Also, Ryan Kerrigan got a sack last week doing that.
* Patrick Chung and Mychal Kendricks might be the key defenders. The coaches need to sell those guys on the idea of making the smart play and not selling out for the huge play. They made costly mistakes in the loss to the Vikings, but both guys had good games last week.
* * * * *
ESPN posted some matchups to watch. Some good info in there.
* * * * *
ESPN’s Countdown show did a good piece on the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry and why it is so nasty. I think Dallas is the biggest rival. I understand plenty of you who live in Philly feel the Giants are the most bitter enemy.
* * * * *
Have fun with the 1pm and 4pm games. We’ve got a lot of time to kill.