Load up a plate of leftovers and another piece of pie; this Thanksgiving afternoon matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys on FOX will go a long way towards deciding the NFC East division. Last year, Philly (8-3) and Big D (8-3) split the season series — with both teams winning on the road, as the Cowboys won 17–3 in Week 7 and the Eagles clinched the division title with a 24–22 win-and-you’re-in victory over Kyle Orton (subbing for an injured Tony Romo) in Week 17. This time around, it’s Philadelphia playing its backup QB, with Mark Sanchez starting in place of Nick Foles.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Dallas -3.5
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Philadelphia’s Key to Victory: The Real McCoy
LeSean McCoy’s maddeningly inconsistent season reached a low point in Week 10’s 45–21 win over Carolina, when Shady could muster only 19 yards on 12 carries (1.6 yards per carry). The following week, McCoy slogged his way to 88 yards on 23 tough carries (3.8 yards per carry) with a long of only 13 yards in a 53–20 loss to Green Bay. Against the Titans, though, the old Shady re-emerged. McCoy dashed for 130 yards on only 21 carries (6.2 yards per carry) and broke a 53-yard jaunt that featured more than a flash of the old explosiveness. The threat of the run adds an important dimension to Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense, while relieving pressure from quarterback Mark Sanchez. Dallas has allowed only 160 rushing yards in the last two games, but respect for McCoy and the run game would open things up for Sanchez, Jordan Matthews and the Eagle passing attack.
[inline_team_schedule team-id=19 date=20141030 sport=nfl upcoming=1 limit=8][/inline_team_schedule]
Dallas’ Key to Victory: Keep Romo Rolling
In two November wins, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo has played some of his best football — 71.7 completion percentage, a 7-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, a 142.4 passer rating. This is all par for the course for Mr. November. Romo has a career record of 28–6 during Turkey Month, with a passer rating of 107.6. So, before the calendar turns to December, it’s critical for Dallas to close the month with a divisional win. Romo’s December struggles — a 14–19 career record — are well documented, so the Cowboys need to build a little margin for error in anticipation of a possible December swoon. The oft-maligned Romo is on the cusp of exorcising a lot of demons, and a home win over Philly would be another important step.
The Philadelphia defense has produced a lot of big plays this season — the Eagles have scored a league-best 10 non-offensive touchdowns — but Philly has also been vulnerable to big plays and surrendered a ton of points (25.0 per game). If Romo can protect the football, something he has a habit of doing in November, the Cowboys should take the lead in the NFC East at AT&T Stadium.