Sunday Night Football: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

It’s a battle of underachievers for the 2011-12 season as the Dallas Cowboys (3-3) head to Lincoln Financial Field to face the Philadelphia Eagles (2-4) in a critical NFC East match-up. Although prior to the season the Eagles had been deemed a strong bet for the Super Bowl this year, based on free-agent talent brought in on both sides of the football and an outstanding set of offensive weaponry led by Michael Vick, head coach Andy Reid has now come under the microscope as to whether or not he should be replaced, and the Eagles face must-win games each week going forward in order to stay in the hunt for what will be a tightly contested NFC East playoff race. Though record-wise Dallas hasn’t been much better at 3-3 overall, their increasingly strong defense, ranked 7th in the league, combined with their 6th ranked offense tells a story that better things are to come, especially as quarterback Tony Romo continues to heal and rookie running back DeMarco Murray steps out of the convoluted shadows of the Cowboys backfield to take his spot in the bright lights. With Philadelphia coming into this match-up as the top rushing offense, 3rd in the league in total offense, but struggling against opponents’ rushing attacks this season, no doubt this battle of under-performing teams could end up being one of the most exciting games to watch tonight, and certainly is one of the best options for online sports betting today at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here.

Starting off with a look at the Dallas Cowboys, who have won the last 4 out of 5 meetings between these two teams, the focus will be on the aforementioned rookie running back DeMarco Murray, who has his way cleared to be the lead back after the high-ankle sprain of the otherwise ineffective Felix Jones, and the release of back-up Tashard Choice. Rushing for an incredible 253 yards last week, setting the franchise single-game rushing record (also 9th best in NFL history), Dallas will hopefully look to feature Murray in this match-up as well, as he stands against an exploitable weakness in the Eagles’ 23rd-ranked rush defense. Giving up 123.8 yards/game on the ground this year, Philadelphia no doubt is preparing for a more balanced attack from Dallas this week as they now finally appear to have a suitable option at running back, however overlooking Tony Romo and his bevy of options in the Cowboys’ passing game could prove just as troubling, with big receivers all around including Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. While the offense of Big D looks to be a stout contender against Philadelphia today, the Cowboys may actually be putting more focus on defense in this showdown, and specifically how to contain the scrambling Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, who lead the 3rd-ranked Eagles offense in a critical home game. The pass rush is certainly key for head coach Jason Garrett to establish early, as Vick has been able to be held reasonably in check when flushed from the pocket, and controlling time-of-game while keeping Vick and his offensive weapons off the field as much as possible could net Dallas a road win in tonight’s featured NFL match-up.

The Eagles on the other hand look to be in a good position to pick up a win at home today, should history factor in to this contest. Coming off a bye week has been good for Philadelphia, which has a current 12-game winning streak after a week off, and getting the defense geared up for a potent Dallas offense with a new featured back, while giving rest to his top-3 offense could do wonders to help boost the confidence of a team that already has a four-game losing streak under its belt this season. Head Coach Andy Reid certainly has been good historically at making corrections and improvements with the extra time off, and more so than ever will he seek to prove that the Eagles require just minor tweaks and adjustments, rather than having to admit that he’s got a team that just simply can’t pull together 4 quarters of football despite being one of the most well-balanced teams in the league.

Keys for the Eagles today will be finding a way to keep a balanced rush-pass attack, as despite having the talented LeSean McCoy in the backfield helming the top rushing attack in the league (170 yards/game), Philadelphia will be facing a shut-down rush Dallas defense that ranks 1st in the league while allowing just 69.7 yards/game. Getting McCoy active early in both the rushing and passing game is essential for the Eagles today to keep Big D guessing, but despite the fact that McCoy has had a touchdown in every game this season, perhaps more importantly for Philadelphia in this contest will be finding ways to exploit Dallas where they wouldn’t otherwise expect it. For example, Dallas comes into this game ranking 31st against opposing tight ends, and while Philadelphia hasn’t put TE Brent Celek to very good use this season, they would do well taking advantage of a smaller group of linebackers by putting the ball in the hands of a receiver that typically doesn’t see a lot of looks from Michael Vick. Also important for Philly will be spreading the ball around to the host of wide-out threats, which includes RB LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant. On the defensive side of the ball, the passing game simply has to be held in check by standouts Nnamdi Asomugha and Assante Samuel, so that the Eagles can focus on containing and shutting down Vick and McCoy in the backfield. Once again, with a big offense marching onto the field, the onus for this game rests with solid defense, as we all know both teams can score at will.

Betting lines for the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys

Bodog Sportsbook is the featured online sports betting website we’re turning to for wagers on the Philadelphia vs. Dallas match-up, and as expected the betting lines show that this game is very well balanced, and should be a tight contest from start to finish. At home, the Eagles have just a slight -3 point advantage on the spread today against the Cowboys, given their history of wins after the bye week, and also pick up the favorite on the money line at -155 odds to win, versus the Cowboys getting the underdog nod at +135 odds. We’re expecting plenty of offense in this match-up, as is indicate by the lofty 49 points on the over/under with -110 odds going either way in that category.

Our Pick To Win:

With both teams having a hard time putting 4 quarters of play together to make a complete game, this game will come down to which team had better preparation in the week leading up to the showdown. With Philadelphia getting two weeks to gear up for this critical NFC East battle I like the Eagles to come out with a chip on their shoulder against Dallas, having lost 4 of the last 5 meetings in this pairing, and get their top-rated offense churning at home. Though defense will be highly touted in this match-up, on the national stage on Sunday night, the over bet gets busted as Philadelphia overcomes a tight game to win 35-30.

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