The number one goal of any team (outside of College football) is to get to the postseason. Whether their goal is specifically winning the championship, or just making the playoffs, it’s really getting to the postseason which matters first. For the Dallas Cowboys their whole season will come down to one of the two remaining games. Normally this is the time I begin to lament the losses they should have won, but I will refrain for this post.
As best I can figure it the importance of this game comes down to two options and they both reside in New York. If The Giants win then Dallas beating Philly becomes moot. That would place the Giants at 8-7 and mean that Dallas would have to win at New York no matter what happens versus Philly. If Dallas beats Philly but loses at New York then they would both have the same record. New York would have the tie breaker having defeated Dallas twice in the season and thus win the division. However, if the Giants were to lose then if that would put them at 7-8 and Dallas could lock up the NFC East with a victory over the Eagles.
The problem is should Dallas play their starters against the Eagles if they do not have anything to play for. If the outcome will be the same regardless, then resting injured players would probably be smart. This is something I would dejectedly hope for them to do. I really don’t want Dallas to quit on any team especially the Eagles. I am not saying that they won’t put their best effort to win, but they might not play their best players.
To say what the Cowboys approach to this game will be is really hard to say. Jason Garrett is a play it safe type of Coach. I can fully see him resting key players like Felix Jones, Jay Ratliff, and DeMarcus Ware. Heck he could even rest Tony Romo and Tyron Smith to be cautious and be able to prep for the Giants. While that all might be good for the long term and if successful he will be heralded as a genius, but I am not sure it’s really the right plan. Going into any game not to win is dangerous and in theory the team has a letdown in their next game. So the true matchup to watch here is not really the Cowboys hosting Philly, it’s really the Jets hosting the Giants.
Right now every odds site I can see has the Jets and the Cowboys favored. Granted the Cowboys are favored less than the standard 3 points a home team gets, so they are probably thinking about the prior Dallas Philly game. Personally I don’t think we will see the same type of mismatch as we did last time. I think the Ryan brothers did a little talkin and sharing of tape. I expect to see a different game with a different outcome. My prediction is that both the Jets and the Cowboys will win on Saturday locking up Dallas for a post season berth.
As for a fantasy look, Romo and the Dallas defense will have to be great to beat Philly. If you think the Giants will win then I would start both with confidence. Sammy Morris might be a one day fantasy gem. Regardless if the Giants win or lose, Morris will get a lot of touches. He will get more if the Giants win or if Felix is not 100% healthy. He will get fewer if Felix can run or Dallas can lock up the East with a win over Philly. I am starting him as a long shot start to win a tough playoff matchup. The risk is high, but I am guessing Felix can’t go or Dallas will rest him. All four receivers for Dallas are open, Bryant, Robinson, Witten, and Austin. I am sure one will stand out over the others, but who is a major guess.
I want Dallas to win this game more for bragging rights than anything else. However I don’t want it to happen over improving their chances of defeating the Giants. This team is still young enough that if they took a game off, I am not sure they could reclaim it the next week. Also there is a good chance of teams which are in the playoff race losing as teams like New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, and Green Bay all have tough matchups. (Granted New Orleans and Atlanta face each other) So Dallas winning this game and the next are important and could change their playoff positioning. For Dallas to have their best chance to go deep into the playoffs they need to be a number 3 seed. I can see Dallas going to San Francisco and defeating the 49ers again, but going to Green Bay will be tough. In the end they won’t get there unless they win the NFC East and that will come down to either two games this week, or one game next.
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