In Better Winning Position: Cowboys or Eagles?

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    Updated: November 12, 2014
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    The NFC East this season has become a two-horse race. With both the New York Giants and Washington Redskins having bad seasons, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are charging towards the NFC East title. The Eagles have 7 games left while the Cowboys have 6 left on the schedule. Going into week 11, which team has the best set of circumstances to get to the top of their division?

     

    Injuries…Lots and Lots Of Injuries…

     

    The NFL is very tough sport and injuries derail teams every week. Both the Eagles and Cowboys are suffering from injuries but the Eagles have already lost their leader on defense Demeco Ryans for the season, and have lost their starting quarterback Nick Foles for 6-8 weeks with a broken Collarbone. It’s not easy losing two of your best players on both sides of the ball but the Eagles have done so and managed to win games and still lead the NFC East by one game.

    With Foles out, former USC stand-out Mark Sanchez is leading the offense, and the jury is still out on whether the former New York Jet can really get the job done. In his first NFL start in nearly two years Sanchez went 20/37 with 332 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Not bad for a first start in nearly two seasons. I’ll get to more on Sanchez later. But for now, the Eagles are dealing with a lot of injuries but still staying afloat; good sign for them.

    The Cowboys are no strangers to injury. For the past few seasons the Cowboys have lost DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, Sean Lee, Morris Claiborne and countless others. The Cowboys miss the playoffs year after year because of poor coaching and lack of personnel on the field. This season has been less hazardous with the injuries and that has helped with the 7-3 start. Cowboys nation saw what life is like without Romo when he went down against the Washington Redskins and he was unable to play against the Arizona Cardinals.

    Brandon Weeden isn’t a terrible back-up, but he’s not fit to lead in a tight playoff race. If DeMarco Murray goes down, the Cowboys may be able to cope. If Romo goes down, the season is over. Luckily for the Cowboys the bye-week couldn’t have come at a better time. The Cowboys have two weeks off to rest Romo and the entire team for a late season push. So far the injuries have not derailed the Eagles or Cowboys chances of capturing the division or a playoff spot, lucky for both of them.

     

    Make or Break Schedules?…

     

    Looking at the remaining schedules for both the Cowboys and the Eagles, the Eagles have it a bit tougher than the Cowboys do. Not only do the Eagles have an extra game, they also play tougher opponents who have playoff implications in their own divisions. The Eagles have to play the Green Bay Packers next who are in a fight with the Detroit Lions for their division. And the Eagles also play a Seattle Seahawks team who plays in the toughest division in the NFL and are fighting for their playoff lives as well.

    The Eagles are going to Lambeau Field to face an Aaron Rodgers led Packers team that is unbeaten at home this season. Rodgers is 4-0 with 16 touchdowns and no interception at home, scary. The Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl Champions and are finally starting to put together some good football performances. Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson have been playing better football as of late, and the Seahawks who just lost Brandon Mebane for the season, should be getting other players back later in the season. It won’t be an easy road for the Eagles once you couple in all the division games they have left.

    The Cowboys have only one playoff team left on their schedule and play one game less than the Eagles. The Cowboys host Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the second to last game of the season and that’s a manageable game. Andrew Luck is a great young quarterback and he has some good young weapons, but an experienced and healthy Cowboys teams can beat anyone. The Chicago Bears looked to be a serious contender when the season began but the wheels have fallen off that team in recent weeks.

    It’s possible that the Bears can turn it around in four weeks and really give the Cowboys problems, but until they right the ship, that’s another very winnable game for Dallas. Then there are the division games left which are always troublesome for the Cowboys. The Cowboys have already lost to the Redskins so anything is possible. But between the bye-week, one less game and the somewhat easier run-in, the schedule advantage has to go to the Cowboys.

     

    Who Has The Better Team?…

     

    This is one of those questions that can be answered with “To be determined.” I have no idea how good Mark Sanchez really is. The Eagles played a bad Carolina Panthers team missing players on defense. Shady McCoy said prior to the season he would be trying to get to 2000 yards rushing but through 9 games McCoy has 641 yards rushing and only 2 touchdowns. Maybe McCoy put too much pressure on himself prior to the season but he has not had the greatest of times in 2014.

    The Eagles still have mastermind Chip Kelly calling the plays, and the Eagles have weapons with guys like McCoy and Darren Sproles and Riley Cooper for Sanchez and or Foles, so they’re always a threat. The game against the Packers will tell people a lot about this team. If Sanchez and the offense go out and have a solid game away at Green Bay, the Eagles defense can contain the rampant Aaron Rodgers, it will definitely send a message to the NFC that this Eagles team is coming for that NFC spot in the Super Bowl.

    Dallas has offensive weapons everywhere, and their defense has been punching far above their weight this season. DeMarco Murray has been playing MVP caliber football all season long and as long as he can stay healthy behind this dominant offensive line, Murray can come close to a 2000-yard season rushing. Tony Romo is having a very good season and him not having to carry the load due to Murray has helped the Cowboys to their 7-3 record.

    Romo’s receiving options in Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten can be lights out when everything is clicking, but as we saw against the Arizona Cardinals, when Romo is not on the field, everything goes south, quickly. The Cowboys have the advantage on offense because Murray is having a great season and Dez Bryant may be the second best wide receiver in football, and that offensive line is amazing. But all that goes by the wayside if Romo is hurt.

    Right now the Cowboys have a slight edge on having the more complete team until we can see another performance from Sanchez and company. Again, if Sanchez and the Eagles go into Lambeau field and have a great game, that changes things. But I need to see more from Chip Kelly and Mark Sanchez, and also more from Shady McCoy.

    The Cowboys are behind the Eagles in the division, so until that changes the Cowboys are second best to the Eagles. The Eagles are the team to beat. They won the division last season and are on top now, period. Week 11 will dictate a lot going forward. If the Eagles win in Green Bay with Sanchez, then it’s going to be a dogfight in the division until the final game.

    But if the Eagles lose badly and Chip Kelly’s offense doesn’t come through and Rodgers rips the Eagles defense, it could be a huge psychological blow to the Eagles and a boost for the Cowboys. The remainder of the season is going to be very interesting in the NFC East. Game on.

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