For the first time this season I have this sinking feeling in my gut that all the Eagles' efforts this season to repeat as NFC East Division champs will have been in vain as a result of last Sunday's loss to Dallas. They now have to win their final two games against Washington and New York, while scoreboard watching to see if the Cowboys get tripped-up this Sunday at home against Indianapolis or next week on the road against the Redskins.
Normally this would be no big thing given how Dallas has played in December the past three seasons, but this time around things have a different feel. It was Mark Sanchez throwing the ball to the wrong team last week instead of Tony Romo. The Eagles' defense showed some major signs of improvement as the season wore on, but it could not get off the turf at the Linc last Sunday night, while Dallas was able to build a huge 21-0 lead early in the game. The pendulum has appeared to swing in the wrong direction ever since the Thanksgiving Day massacre and Philadelphia no longer controls the necessary power to swing it back in the right direction to save its season.
I am still holding onto the hope that the Cowboys revert to their former selves over these next two games just for the sheer pleasure of seeing team owner Jerry Jones' face twist and turn as his team once again crashes and burns. Unfortunately, that sinking feeling I was talking about keeps telling me that I will not get the satisfaction this time around after watching our most bitter rivals blow the division title three-straight years with a loss in the final game of the season.
While there is a very good chance that my preseason prediction of an 11-5 season for the Eagles comes to fruition, in my worst nightmare I never imagined that this record would NOT be good enough to win the division, let alone make the playoffs.
First things first, Philadelphia has to get by Washington this Saturday afternoon. This should not be a problem, but I would not bet on the Birds as eight-point road favorites. The tricky part could be next week against New York. The Giants have shown some signs of life lately to the point where I made them my NFC East "pick of the week" against St. Louis. Eli Manning and Co. would love nothing more than to put the final steak in Philly's heart next week to send both teams packing to an early offseason.
As for the Cowboys, a 4-0 finish to the regular season could actually propel this team deep into the playoffs while riding a strong wave of momentum. The ability to run the ball this time of year has led to a number of Super Bowl runs over the years, and while I do not see Dallas getting that far, I could see the Boys working their way into the NFC title game.
For now, my only hope is for DeMarco Murray to cough the ball up a few times this Sunday while playing with a broken left hand. He has accounted for close to 40 percent of the Cowboys' offense this season and he was more than instrumental in last Sunday's win at the Linc.
For this week's complete NFC East preview, please check-out the link below for the piece as previously posted on Doc's Sports.
Expert NFL Betting Picks: Weekly NFC East Predictions Week 16