A Win Means Everything
One of the NFL's biggest rivalries, featuring one of its most polarizing players, is renewed when Terrell Owens and the Cowboys host the Eagles with each team trying to stake its claim as the one to beat in the NFC East.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Dallas -7 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 40% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas -4 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Dallas is looking to win its final home opener at Texas Stadium - the team moves into a new $1 billion-plus facility next year - by avoiding a third consecutive home loss to Philadelphia.
The Cowboys received plenty of hype as Super Bowl favorites this season after going 13-3 last year, but the Eagles garnered some as well with Donovan McNabb returning at full strength. Both teams appeared worthy of such consideration after blowout wins last week.
"There's a reason why they won 13 games last year. So we know that it's going to be a battle," McNabb said. "Every time we play it goes to the wire somehow, so we have to prepare ourselves to go out and give up a good fight."
The winner could make a statement as to which team may be the favorite to win the NFC East.
Though the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants can't be left out of that conversation, they did struggle to beat Washington in their opener and can't prove much this week. That's because they will be facing St. Louis, a team which Philadelphia dominated last Sunday in a 38-3 home win.
Dallas was just as impressive on the road in its opener, rolling to a 28-10 victory over Cleveland. Tony Romo was 24-of-32 for 320 yards and threw his lone touchdown pass to Owens, who had five catches for 87 yards.
This will be Owens' fifth game against the Eagles since they bitterly parted ways after the 2005 season.
"If he's not the best, he's one of the best at his position, and when it's all said and done, that'll be how it is for, I think, history," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Owens. "He'll go down as one of the great wide receivers in this league, so you have to bring your 'A' game when you're playing against him."
Owens and Romo, however, have been held in check in Philadelphia's last two visits to Dallas. Romo had a 32.6 quarterback rating in those games and Owens accounted for just four catches for 60 yards while scoring the Cowboys' only touchdown as the team was limited to a combined 13 points.
Dallas was held to a total of 136 rushing yards in those two defeats, but ran for 167 last week against Cleveland. Marion Barber rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts despite leaving in the third quarter with bruised ribs, though he is expected to play this week, and rookie Felix Jones ran for 62 yards and a score.
The Eagles run defense, though, looked very good last week as it held three-time 1,000-yard rusher Steven Jackson to 40 yards on 14 attempts. Philadelphia was seventh in the league against the run last season, allowing an average of 95.8 yards per game, while Dallas ranked sixth at 94.6.
Brian Westbrook has rushed for 100 yards only once in 12 career games versus Dallas, but is coming off a solid season debut with 91 yards and a TD on 19 carries. He also had a touchdown reception as part of Philadelphia's masterful passing game led by McNabb.
Coming off a season in which he was recovering from knee surgery and didn't appear to hit his stride until late in the year, McNabb looked very healthy to open this season as he threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns. Even with Philadelphia not acquiring a big-name receiver through free agency and projected starters Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown sidelined by injury, the Eagles had three 100-yard receivers - rookie DeSean Jackson, Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett.
"They played the Rams. They didn't play the Cowboys," Dallas cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones told the team's official Web site. "We'll do what we have to do and we're going to show up. I can't wait."
Though Brown may return Monday, Philadelphia's passing attack appears to have a greater challenge against a Dallas secondary which is expected to welcome back Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman, who sat out the opener with a groin injury. With Jones replacing Newman in the starting lineup last week, the Cowboys limited the Browns passing game - featuring 2007 Pro Bowlers Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow - to 114 yards.
"It's one game," Dallas safety Ken Hamlin said. "We showed we can do things, we executed pretty well, but we have to improve."
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