Found December 23, 2011 on Fox Sports Southwest:
Nfl-oakland-raiders
The many playoff implications will be left for others to sort out. For the Cowboys and Eagles, it's personal. Saturday's game is a rematch of a 34-7 thrashing by the Eagles back on Oct. 30. The Eagles were motivated by Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan calling them the "all-hype team." Now it's the Cowboys who are motivated by the embarrassment of that earlier loss. As for the business of the playoffs, the game abounds with scenarios. For the 8-6 Cowboys, Saturday's game could mean all or nothing at all. And the 6-8 Eagles, believe it or not, could still finish atop the division and in the playoffs. It all hinges on another game that starts three hours before in New Jersey. If the Giants lose to the Jets in a game that kicks off at noon Central Time, the Cowboys can clinch the NFC East and a playoff berth by beating the Eagles. The Cowboys and Eagles kick off at 3:15 p.m. CT in Arlington. The Cowboys are a game ahead of the 7-7 Giants in the division standings. Those two meet next week to finish the regular season. So if the Giants beat the Jets, it doesn't matter what the Cowboys do against the Eagles. Win or lose, the Cowboys will still have to beat the Giants on Jan. 1 to split the season series and win the division. And if both the Cowboys and Giants lose on Saturday? Then the Eagles' playoff hopes remain alive going into the final weekend. The Eagles would need to beat the Redskins on Jan. 1, and if the Giants beat the Cowboys all three teams would finish tied at 8-8. The Eagles would earn the playoff berth because of a better record within the division. Of course, if you tried to explain any of this to the Cowboys players this week, you would simply get a glazed-over look. But mention "34-7" and you will get their attention. The Eagles ran through the Cowboys like wet tissue paper that night, amassing 495 yards and 31 first downs. LeSean McCoy ran 185 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Michael Vick was nearly flawless with a 129.9 passer rating. Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was sacked four times and threw an interception. It was 34-0 before the Cowboys finally scored a meaningless, fourth quarter touchdown. It's no wonder Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said earlier this week he was "scared" to face the Eagles. Ryan's scheme was exposed and exploited unmercifully in October, while the offensive line couldn't give Romo time to operate. After that game, the Cowboys reeled off four wins in a row to claim the lead in the NFC East. The Eagles lost four of their next five to all but fall out of contention. Both teams have looked better of late. The Eagles have won two in a row and are coming off a 45-19 whipping of the Jets. The Cowboys, after losing two in a row, dispatched Tampa Bay, 31-15 last week. But as scary as the Eagles have been with their big-play offense, they also lead the NFL with 35 turnovers. And as efficient as Romo and the Cowboys have been at times, they've also been prone to giving up big fourth-quarter leads this season. Ultimately, the game will likely come down to the adjustments the Cowboys have made since the last meeting. Figuring out how to block the Eagles' Wide-9 alignment is critical, as is Ryan finding a way to keep his defense from being shredded. Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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