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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket

Prediction: DAL 20, PHI 24

Update: Marion Barber is still listed as questionable and was limited in every practice this week. He'll likely follow the pattern of last week where he will play on a limited basis but Tashard Choice will be the primary and the only one with fantasy value. Barber has said he feels better this week but he still was never able to practice fully. Jason Witten was held out of practice on Wednesday but was able to have limited work on Thursday and Friday. He has not been ruled out but would be very risky to rely on this week. The Cowboys also promoted a practice squad tight end to the roster as another sign that all is not well with Witten. He may play but there is no guarantee and he would not be 100% healthy in any case.

L.J. Smith is expected to miss this week with a shoulder bruise.

This is a battle for a wildcard and if Dallas wins - they're in. If the Eagles win, they are in as long as both the Bears and Buccaneers lose. The Cowboys already won 41-37 in Dallas back in week two but these teams have split games for the last four seasons. And Dallas has won two of the last three meetings in Philly.

Dallas Cowboys (9-6)
Homefield: Texas Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @CLE 28-10 -5.5 49
2 PHI 41-37 -7 47
3 @GB 27-16 -3 51
4 WAS 24-26 -11.5 46
5 CIN 31-22 -17.5 44
6 @ARZ 24-30 -5 50
7 @STL 14-34 -7 44
8 TB 13-9 -2 42
9 @NYG 14-35 +8.5 41
10 BYE - - -
11 @WAS 14-10 -1.5 43
12 SF 35-22 -11 48
13 SEA 34-9 -12.5 46.5
14 @PIT 13-20 +3 41.5
15 NYG 20-8 -3 44
16 BAL 24-33 -4 39.5
17 @PHI - - -
DAL @ PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Tony Romo     280,1
RB Marion Barber 20    
RB Tashard Choice 80,1 30  
TE Martellis Bennett   40  
WR Terrell Owens   90,1  
WR Patrick Crayton   40  
WR Roy Williams   50  
PK Nick Folk 2 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: The Cowboys are having yet another horrific slide in December and what is even worse for this week is that the offense has not generated more than 14 points in the past four road trips. The talent is there at least potentially but the chemistry has been lacking. But in reality, the Cowboys have just faced three of the toughest defenses in the league of PIT, NYG and BAL. And this week it will be up to the Dallas defense to get the win.

Quarterback: Tony Romo is having a great year with 26 touchdowns and 3265 passing yards despite missing three games but the problem for this week is that he has been devastating at home where every game had at least two scores and four efforts topped 300 yards. But on the road, he has only had more than one touchdown once in five away games. His yardage typically takes a step down as well.

Romo passed for 312 yards and three scores against he Eagles this year.

Running Backs: Marion Barber has not been ruled out this week but his participation in the last two games have been minimal at best. The Cowboys need to win this week to play in January but Barber is not the back that can help them most. Tashard Choice has really made his mark when the Cowboys needed him most. He has rushed for at least 88 yards in each of the last three games and scored in two of them. He's added at least four catches in each and has posted impressive numbers for facing PIT, BAL and NYG.

Expect Choice to take the primary role again this week. Barber rushed for 63 yards and one touchdown against the Eagles this year and added another score on four catches for 51 yards.

Wide Receivers: If Terrell Owens was to ever earn his keep, showing up his old Eagles team would be a nice place. Owens had three catches for 89 yards and two scores when the Eagles visited this year. But Owens has been far less effective away from Dallas where he has only three scores and each of his last five trips out have only topped at a mere 38 yards. The potential loss of Witten may help Owens this week or could actually hurt him.

Roy Williams remains a vastly under-used wideout who could be a #1 on many other NFL teams. But at least Patrick Crayton and Miles Austin have shown up lately.

Tight Ends: Jason Witten re-aggravated his ankle injury last week and is no lock to play this week. HC Wade Phillips indicated that it may prevent him from playing so Martellis Bennett would take his place. Bennett has four touchdowns same as Witten.

Match Against the Defense: The Eagles rushing defense has benefited by playing some weak teams at the right time but they have also allowed three runners to top 100 rushing yards and two of those were in Philly. This is a tall order but so far Choice has been nothing short of amazing against top defenses. He has yet to show he cannot turn in over 100 total yards and a score.

Romo faces a secondary that has allowed six teams to pass for multiple scores but he's been less effective in road games and now won't have Witten. Anything above decent yardage and a passing score that favors Owens will really challenge Philly for the win. The Cowboys could win this but history is truly stacked against them.

Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 7 14 12 1 26 10
Preventing Fantasy Points    PHI 4 3 6 25 9 11

Philadelphia Eagles (8-6-1))
Homefield: Lincoln Financial Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 STL 38-3 -7 44
2 @DAL 37-41 +7 47
3 PIT 15-6 -3 45
4 @CHI 20-24 -3 45
5 WAS 17-23 -5 43
6 @SF 40-26 -5 43
7 BYE - - -
8 ATL 27-14 -8.5 46.5
9 @SEA 26-7 -6.5 43
10 NYG 31-36 -3 43.5
11 @CIN 13-13 -9 42.5
12 @BAL 7-36 +1 38.5
13 ARZ 48-20 -3 47
14 @NYG 20-14 +8 44
15 CLE 30-10 -14 39
16 @WAS 3-10 -5 38.5
17 DAL - - -
PHI vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Donovan McNabb 20,1   240,1
RB Brian Westbrook 70,1 40  
TE L.J. Smith 20
WR Reggie Brown   30  
WR DeSean Jackson   50,1  
WR Kevin Curtis   30  
WR Jason Avant   50  
PK David Akers 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Eagles loss in Washington likely crushed any playoff hopes even with a win over the Cowboys. The road games were the biggest problem this year and tying the Bengals was a low point. The Eagles are ending the year no better than when they started and without a definitive direction McNabb staying or leaving. But a final home win that knocks the Cowboys out of the playoffs is always a treat.

Quarterback: Donovan McNabb has been wildly erratic in production this year with games as good as four touchdowns and yet four others without any. His home games have been better with the last three posting a total of nine scores thanks to facing the Giants, Cardinals and Browns. McNabb passed for 281 yards and one score in Dallas this year with four sacks.

Running Backs: Following the erratic theme, Brian Westbrook had four bad games in weeks nine to 12, then exploded for two weeks with a total of six touchdowns and over 150 total yards on average. And then the last two efforts had no scores and never more than 53 rushing yards. Correll Buckhalter helped out against the Browns but Westbrook has been hot and cold all season long.

One of his best games was in Dallas where he had 91 rushing yards and a score plus he caught a second touchdown.

Wide Receivers: There has been no reliable fantasy value in any of these wideouts all year. DeSean Jackson has been the best player but even he only has three touchdowns and has three games that went under 20 yards. Jackson's best game was actually in Dallas when he caught six passes for 110 yards. But Greg Lewis, Reggie Brown, Hank Baskett, Jason Avant and Kevin Curtis all figure in at least occasionally. Curtis has an injured calf but is expected to play this week.

No other wideout had more than 36 yards in Dallas this year.

Tight Ends: L.J. Smith has been marginally productive this season with just three scores and never more than 49 yards in any game. He had just one catch for ten yards in Dallas.

Match Against the Defense: The Cowboys rushing defense had been very good this year until allowing two long runs last week to let the Ravens win. On the road, the Cowboys have been softer against the run but overall the defense has stepped up in recent weeks until the Ravens game. Expect a decent game here from Westbrook but he's been so inconsistent this year that almost anything could happen.

McNabb had success throwing to Jackson in week two when the Cowboys were running through injured cornerbacks but they are healthy now and the Eagles should be able to get good passing yardage here without using any single player that much.

Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 11 13 8 22 3 4
Preventing Fantasy Points    DAL 9 12 14 6 27 22

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