By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nothing is a guarantee, especially in the NFL. Sean Lee knows that. The Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker grew up as a multi-sport star for Upper St. Clair, just outside of Pittsburgh. He knows about the importance of a running run, and it was his handiwork that shut down LeSean McCoy in the Cowboys’ 17-3 victory over the Eagles, back on Oct. 20.
Lee made a game-high 11 tackles, had an interception and knew what to do when it came to putting the clamps on the Eagles.
“I thought our defensive line was able to pressure Foles and we were able to make tight coverages,” Lee said after the game. “We had to stop McCoy. That was the key playing disciplined football and making sure everyone rallied around McCoy. All week we worked on trying to stop McCoy. You stop McCoy, you stop the Eagles.”
The problem facing the Cowboys’ porous defense is that Lee won’t be quarterbacking the Dallas defense and starting quarterback Tony Romo won’t be playing at all after surgery to repair a herniated disk, when the Cowboys host the Eagles for the NFC East title Sunday night at AT&T Stadium.
“The coverages were tight all day and [Nick] Foles had to hold on to the ball a bunch of times,” Lee said. “We knew they like to go fast and make sure we didn’t leave anyone open. The guys on the outside are why we won. We challenged every throw.”
The fact is, no one thinks the injured-depleted Cowboys will pose any challenge at all to the Eagles. When the teams first met in Oct. at Lincoln Financial Field, the Cowboys played without leading rusher DeMarco Murray and All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware missed his first game as a pro.
Over confidence, however, shouldn’t be a concern for the Eagles. They have a few underlying motivational ploys, too, like Foles’ shoddy 11 of 29 for 80 yards against Dallas, stemming to the Eagles being held to 278 yards of total offense. McCoy was bottled up. He rushed for 55 yards on 18 carries against the Cowboys.
As for further incentive, the Eagles have lost their last three games to the Cowboys. Philadelphia’s last victory over the Cowboys was a 20-7 win on December 24, 2011, in Dallas.
Here’s what some experts think:
Peter Prisco, Senior NFL Columnist CBS Sports: Eagles 38, Cowboys 35
Hall of Fame writer Rat Didinger: Eagles 31, Cowboys 14
WIP on-air personality Glen Macnow: Eagles 34, Cowboys 24
Showtime’s Inside the NFL analyst Phil Simms: Eagles victory (no score)
NFL Hall of Famer and Showtime’s Inside the NFL guest host Franco Harris: Eagles victory (no score)
SI.com football columnist Don Banks: Eagles 33, Cowboys 20
Sporting News analyst Ross Tucker: Eagles 34, Cowboys 24
… and finally …
CBS Philly Joseph Santoliquito: Eagles 38, Cowboys 14 (a true kiss of death meaning the Cowboys will probably win)
Who do you think will win? Tell us in the comments section!