Friday, January 1, 2010

Who Wants to Win the Game the Most?

That is the big question heading into the game on Sunday. There is a chance that they game Sunday afternoon will determine the #2 seed in the NFC. But there is also a chance that they game will just determine who gets the home field advantage in the wild card game next week. There will be something on the line no matter how things play out in the other games this week. So both teams will be playing for something come game time.

In a game that is evenly matched you usually want to look at which team has more to play for to determine the advantage. Both teams know they are in the playoff picture regardless so we need to dig a little deeper. Let's look at all of the different reasons that each team has to play. I'll determine a winner based on the cumulative results from the different categories.

Home field advantage - Both teams have a home playoff game hanging in the balance. And both teams have a shot to secure the #2 seed in the NFC. The Cowboys need help to get the #2 seed, the Eagles do not need help. There is no telling if the Cowboys will get the help they need.
Edge - Eagles

Coaching - Wade Phillips knows that he probably needs to win a playoff game to insure his return as the head man next season. Andy Reid is entrenched as the head coach in Philadelphia. Wade knows that a home game will raise his odds to win his first playoff game as a head coach.
Edge - Cowboys

Players - We all saw what happened last season in the finale. The Eagles not only knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs, but they completely embarrassed them on a big stage. Tony Romo and the rest of the Cowboys who were there have not forgotten how that felt. Regardless of what the players are saying you know that the game means more to the Cowboys players than the Eagles players.
Edge - Cowboys

Crowd - The Cowboys have the home field advantage for the game. Even if the new stadium lacks the energy that Texas stadium could generate I think the crowd will be in a frenzy for this game. The fans know how important home field advantage will be for the playoffs and they haven't forgotten what happened to end the season last year. The Eagles are a hated rival even without extra motivation for the fans.
Edge - Cowboys

Pro Bowl Snubs - The two teams are pretty even on pro bowlers. Some guys who get left off the team sometimes get extra motivation to show that they should have been included. The Cowboys have 6 players on the team and the Eagles have 5 (although DeSean Jackson was named at 2 positions). So who could argue they were snubbed? Tony Romo is probably playing the best football of his career but his numbers don't match the QB's named to the team. McNabb had a good year, but not a great year especially considering the weapons around him. Brent Celek could make a case that he should have made it but he can't block like Jason Witten and he doesn't have the numbers of Vernon Davis. Mike Jenkins was borderline.
Edge - Even

History - The Eagles have a track record of performing well in high pressure games. They have made the Super Bowl with McNabb and Reid running the show. The Cowboys still haven't broken through but they are overdue for a playoff run. Whoever wins might be catapulted to a Super Bowl run. The Eagles go in knowing that recent history is on their side. The Cowboys enter the game trying to buck the recent historical trend.
Edge - Eagles

Overall - Eagles 2, Cowboys 3, Even 1

To me it appears the Cowboys have the edge based on what happened last season. The players, coaches, and the fans all still feel like redemption needs to be won with a dismantling of the Eagles. I believe the Cowboys will win the game but it won't be easy.
Final score - Cowboys 31, Eagles 27

I could have gone into more categories in terms of player matchups but I tried to look purely at the motivation heading into the game. Feel free to add your own categories and give the edge to the team you think would be favored.

1 comment:

  1. I think the key to this game will be big plays. If there aren't any and it's a slow game, that favors the Cowboys. This is going to be an exciting game.