The playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys finish up the regular season slate with a noon-time tilt with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. With Walt Coleman reffing the game, is there any lean towards one team? How impressive has Ezekiel Elliott's rookie season been? And has the Cowboys defense done heading into January? We have that and more, so check out our facts!
The Cowboys have seemingly altered their plan for utilizing Tony Romo as a backup in this game. Why?
As Fish notes on 105.3 The Fan:
Very quickly, the Cowboys QB question for Week 17 will go from being a “who’’ to being a “why’’?
Sources tell 105.3 The Fan that Tony Romo is petitioning Cowboys management to get him some snaps in the otherwise meaningless Sunday visit to Philly, which fits ESPN’s story that the erstwhile star may be one of three quarterbacks who plays against the Eagles.
With the team having clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, there is reason to not expose rookie starter Dak Prescott to many snaps. And Dallas’ plan all week — what we’ve called “The Rainy-Day Romo Plan’’ — has been in place in regard to how the team practiced Wednesday at Thursday: Romo got his work, but not necessarily ahead of Mark Sanchez, the ideal “mop-up’’ guy here.
But if Romo thinks he needs to play? If he’s persuaded owner Jerry Jones of it? If offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is noting that there are some benefits to it, in theory, as he did Thursday?
The idea becomes a “viable’’ one — but not necessarily, a “good’’ one, because in addition to the “who’’ and the “why,’’ there is a “what’’?
Left tackle Tyron Smith and left guard Ron Leary are ailing. Having them healthy for the playoffs two weeks from now is infinitely more important than forcing players in their physical states to endure the Philly game. If they sit (Tyron will, Leary probably won’t), the starting tackle is Emmett Cleary and a helper at guard will be Ryan Seymour, a practice-squadder called up Friday.
There is no right or wrong answer here, because the circumstances are unprecedented. But there are questions about the “who’’ and about the “why.’’
COWBOYS WK 17 FANTASY PICKS (AND A ROMO TIP)
COWBOYS STARCAST: THE PLAN FOR EAGLES
COWBOYS TAKES: SANCHEZ, TYRON, THIN BLUE LINE
COWBOYS ROMO RAINY DAY PLAN: WHY YOU HATE IT
COWBOYS CRUSH LIONS; CREDIT TO COACHES
SUPER COWBOYS 'REST V RUST V RECORDS V RISK'
COWBOYS VS. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES II FACTS
How important is a season-finale win after the playoffs are clinched? In Dallas' history ...
Lost finale, lost opening playoff game: 6/10
Won finale, won opening playoff game: 13/20
This is the second time in club history the Cowboys are 13-2. That other team from 2007 similarly achieved home-field advantage but were defeated in the divisional round of the playoffs by the New York Giants.
Since 1990, when playoff formats were last reformatted, teams there have been 27 teams to start 13-2. Here are the final fates for those teams:
Divisional playoff loss – 8/27
Conference championship loss – 6/27
Super Bowl loss – 7/27
Super Bowl win – 6/27
This is the fourth time in Eagles history the club has started 6-9.
The last time the Eagles and Cowboys faced each other in a season finale “with nothing to play for” was Jan. 2, 2011. Dallas was 5-9 and Philadelphia was 10-5 with the NFC East wrapped up. Philadelphia played their backups, lost 14-13, and then lost in the playoffs to Green Bay 21-16.
This is the fifth time the Cowboys have won the division while the Eagles have finished in last place.
The Cowboys are currently 6-1 on the road. A win would give them a 7-1 finish, a tie for the second-best away record in franchise history.
A win would give the Eagles a 6-2 home record, tied for their third-best home record in club history.
The Dallas Cowboys are 28-26 against the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. Here is the breakdown by venue:
Franklin Field: 4-6
Veterans Stadium: 16-15
Lincoln Financial Field: 8-5
The Cowboys are 3-3 in season finales against the Eagles.
Dallas is 5-1 against Philadelphia in January with a 1-1 record in Philadelphia.
The Cowboys are 11-21 all-time on the road in season finales.
DAK PRESCOTT FACTS
Prescott will be the first Cowboys rookie quarterback to start in Philadelphia since Troy Aikman. Naturally, a win will make him the first such Dallas quarterback to do so.
In the history of Lincoln Financial Field, rookie quarterbacks are 4-6.
Prescott is currently tied with Andrew Luck for the second-most passing touchdowns for a rookie with 23. He needs three more to tie Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson.
Prescott’s 105.6 passer rating, if it holds, will stand as the best rookie quarterback passer rating in NFL history.
Currently, Prescott’s 105.6 passer rating is the third-highest in the NFL. Only Matt Ryan and Tom Brady have better ratings.
In terms of Cowboys history, Prescott’s 105.6 passer rating would be second to Tony Romo’s 113.2 passer rating in 2014 as the second best single-season passer rating in team history.
Even if Prescott should throw two interceptions Sunday, he would still finish with the lowest number of interceptions among quarterbacks who started every game since Week 1.
Of Prescott’s four interceptions, three of them have been tossed on third down, which is tied for the 16th-most in the NFL.
Prescott’s 8.7 adjusted yards per attempt is the third-highest in the NFL.
Prescott and Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor are tied with the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with six.
Prescott’s 83-yard touchdown pass to Ezekiel Elliott in Pittsburgh remains the sixth-longest pass in 2016.
Prescott’s 96.1 passer rating is the seventh-best among starting quarterbacks in 2016.
Prescott’s 7.9 yards per attempt on third down is the eighth-highest in the league.
CARSON WENTZ FACTS
With 14 interceptions thrown, Wentz is set to throw the second-fewest interceptions for an Eagles rookie quarterback with a minimum of 250 attempts. First place goes to Nick Foles with five.
Wentz is tied with Joe Flacco and Drew Brees for the seventh-most interceptions thrown with 14.
Win or lose, Wentz will set the Eagles franchise record for most wins by a first-round rookie quarterback.
Wentz’s 78.2 passer rating is the second-best in franchise history for a rookie quarterback. The best goes again to Foles with a 79.1 rating.
Wentz has the sixth-worst passer rating in the NFL. It is also the sixth-lowest among the entire 2016 draft class.
Wentz has the seventh-most passing attempts in the NFL with 564.
Wentz has the ninth-most completions in the league with 352.
Wentz is tied with Blake Bortles for the third-lowest adjusted yards per attempt in the NFL at 5.7.
Wentz needs 94 yards to overtake Dak Prescott for the most passing yards among 2016 draft class quarterbacks.
Wentz has been sacked the most out of the 2016 draft class at 31 dropdowns. This is also tied for the 14th-most in the league.
Wentz is tied with Carson Palmer for the most fumbles in the NFL with 14.
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT FACTS
Elliott’s 1,631 rushing yards are the fifth-most in Cowboys single-season history.
Elliott’s 16 total touchdowns are tied for the fourth-most in Cowboys single-season history.
Elliott’s 16 total touchdowns are tied for the seventh-most by a rookie in league single-season history.
If Elliott were to not carry the ball at all Sunday, Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell would need 364 yards to overtake Elliott for the league rushing title.
Elliott’s impending rushing title will help the Cowboys tie the Bears for the second-most rushing titles by franchise with six. The Browns lead the NFL with 11.
Elliott has the fourth-highest yards per carry in the NFL at 5.07.
Elliott’s 5.07 yards per carry is the 14th-best in NFL single-season history.
Elliott has as many first downs rushing with 11 as Robert Griffin III has passing.
Elliott is 9/12 on getting first downs on third-and-1, which is tied with Cam Newton for the third-best in the NFL.
Elliott’s 75.0 percent first down percentage on third-and-1 would be the sixth-best in the NFL if Elliott were his own team.
JASON GARRETT FACTS
This is the 27th week of Garrett’s career that the Cowboys have been in undisputed first place in the NFC East.
Garrett joins Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, and Wade Phillips as the only Cowboys head coaches to lead the club to the conference’s top seed.
Garrett and Wade Phillips are the only Cowboys head coaches to lead the team to a 13-2 record.
Garrett is 7-8 against rookie head coaches.
Garrett owns a 7-6 record against the Eagles. Here is how he compares to other Cowboys coaches where applicable:
Tom Landry: 36-20
Jason Garrett: 7-6
Barry Switzer: 6-3
Wade Phillips: 5-2
Chan Gailey: 3-1
Jimmy Johnson: 5-6
Bill Parcells: 3-5
Dave Campo: 0-6
Garrett is 23-16 against the NFC East with a 14-5 record on the road.
Garrett has completed a series sweep 6/11 times since taking over as the Cowboys head coach in 2010.
In completing a sweep on the road, Garrett has done so 4/5 times.
Garrett’s six sweeps in the NFC East through 103 regular season games is tied for third-best in franchise history:
Barry Switzer: 6
Jimmy Johnson: 6
Jason Garrett: 6
Garrett’s team is 14th in the NFL in fewest penalties with 100.
Garrett is 2-4 in season finales. Here is how he compares to other Cowboys head coaches:
Tom Landry: 15-14
Jimmy Johnson: 3-2
Chan Gailey: 2-0
Jason Garrett: 2-4
Wade Phillips: 1-2
Barry Switzer: 1-3
Dave Campo: 0-3
Bill Parcells: 0-4
DOUG PEDERSON FACTS
Pederson is the first Eagles head coach since Andy Reid to lead Philadelphia to the bottom of the NFC East.
Pederson is 2-5 against playoff-winning head coaches this year.
A loss would give Pederson a 1-5 record in the NFC East, which would be the fewest number of division wins for a first-year Eagles head coach since Buddy Ryan in 1986 with a 1-6-1 record.
Pederson’s 6-9 mark is the worst among 2016’s class of rookie head coaches. Miami’s Adam Gase sits at 10-5 and Tampa Bay’s Dirk Koetter is at 8-7.
Among rookie head coaches, Pederson’s Eagles at 340 points for is the second-most.
Pederson leads the rookie head coaching class with 109 penalties.
Pederson is tied with Andy Reid for the most pre-snap penalties in the NFL with 48.
Pederson with a 6-9 record joins Chip Kelly, Andy Reid, and Marion Campbell as the only Philadelphia head coaches to have such a record.
Pederson is 0-1 against the Cowboys. Here is how he compares to other Eagles head coaches:
Andy Reid: 17-12
Buddy Ryan: 8-2
Nick Skorich: 4-2
Buck Shaw: 1-0
Joe Kuharich: 5-5
Chip Kelly: 3-3
Marion Campbell: 1-5
Mike McCormack: 2-4
Rich Kotite: 2-7
Ray Rhodes: 3-6
Dick Vermeil: 4-10
Ed Khayat: 0-3
Jerry Williams: 0-5
Pederson is 5/9 on challenges in 2016.
The Cowboys are 123-112 all-time on FOX.
The Eagles have a 15-12 advantage over the Cowboys on FOX, including playoffs.
Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch will be calling the game for FOX. Dallas 20-17 with Burkhardt and 4-2 with Lynch.
Burkhardt was the inaugural play-by-play announcer for Compass Media Networks “America’s Team Radio Network,” that was auxiliary to the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network broadcasts, from 2011-12. Burkhardt’s partner was ex-Cowboy quarterback Danny White, who still does color for Compass.
The Cowboys are 4-10 in Week 17 games on FOX.
WALT COLEMAN FACTS
This week’s referee is Walt Coleman. The Cowboys have a 6-10 record when he officiates their games. Here are the results:
1999 – @WAS, 41-35 – W-OT
1999 – @MIN, 17-27 – L
2002 – @DET, 7-9 – L
2002 – @NYG, 7-37 – L
2003 – @CAR, 10-29 – L
2004 – @PHI, 7-12 – L
2006 – @NYG, 23-20 – W
2007 – MIN, 24-14 – W
2009 – @PHI, 20-16 – W
2010 – @GB, 7-45 – L
2011 – @NE, 16-20 – L
2011 – @Cardinals, 13-19 – L-OT
2012 – @PHI, 38-23 – W
2012 – NO, 34-31 – L
2013 – GB, 36-37 – L
2014 – Titans, 26-10 – W
The Cowboys are 50-50 on having fewer penalties with Coleman through 16 games:
1999 – WAS: 8/45; DAL: 9/99
1999 – MIN: 12/95; DAL: 8/55
2002 – DET: 6/50; DAL: 7/70
2002 – NYG: 6/57; DAL: 7/55
2003 – CAR: 0/0; DAL: 2/11
2004 – PHI: 5/36; DAL: 6/35
2006 – NYG: 9/94; DAL: 7/58
2007 – MIN: 4/36; DAL: 4/22
2009 – PHI: 8/82; DAL: 11/70
2010 – GB: 2/20; DAL: 5/40
2011 – NE: 5/35; DAL: 10/77
2011 – AZ: 6/41; DAL: 7/49
2012 – PHI: 6/50; DAL: 13/75
2012 – NO: 6/42; DAL: 5/32
2013 – GB: 7/59; DAL: 7/79
2014 – Titans: 5/30; DAL: 4/25
Coleman has the eighth-highest home team winning percentage in the NFL:
Walt Anderson: .786
John Parry: .714
John Hussey: .667
Jerome Boger: .643
Tony Corrente: .643
Gene Steratore: .643
Carl Cheffers: .633
Walt Coleman: .583
Jeff Triplette: .571
Brad Allen: .571
Bill Vinovich: .571
Clete Blakeman: .533
Craig Wrolstad: .500
Ed Hochuli: .467
Pete Morelli: .467
Ron Torbert: .429
Terry McAulay: .318
Coleman has the second-highest percentage of home teams having fewer penalties:
Tony Corrente: .786
Walt Coleman: .750
Carl Cheffers: .733
John Parry: .714
Ed Hochuli: .600
Terry McAulay: .546
Pete Morelli: .536
Gene Steratore: .500
Ron Torbert: .500
Jeff Triplette: .500
Brad Allen: .500
Walt Anderson: .500
John Hussey: .467
Bill Vinovich: .429
Craig Wrolstad: .429
Clete Blakeman: .400
Jerome Boger: .357
The Eagles are 8-10 when Coleman officiates their games. Here are the results:
1999 – NE, 24-9 – W
2000 – Titans, 13-15 – L
2001 – TB, 17-13 – W
2003 – NE, 10-31 – L
2003 – @CAR, 25-16 – W
2004 – DAL, 12-7 – W
2005 – @ATL, 10-14 – L
2005 – GB, 19-14 – W
2006 – Titans, 13-31 – L
2008 – @CHI, 20-24 – L
2009 – DAL, 16-20 – L
2010 – ATL, 31-17 – W
2011 – @BUF, 24-31 – L
2012 – DAL, 23-38 – L
2013 – @NYG, 21-36 – L
2013 – WAS, 24-16 – W
2014 – @NYG, 34-26 – W
2015 – WAS, 24-38 – L
The Eagles have had fewer penalties 8/18 times:
1999 – NE: 3/15; PHI: 7/85
2000 – Titans: 1/5; PHI: 6/34
2001 – TB: 1/10; PHI: 11/95
2003 – NE: 8/84; PHI: 7/53
2003 – CAR: 9/70; PHI: 4/35
2004 – DAL: 6/35; PHI: 5/36
2005 – ATL: 7/88; PHI: 8/55
2005 – GB: 7/40; PHI: 7/50
2006 – Titans: 2/15; PHI: 8/64
2008 – CHI: 1/5; PHI: 3/25
2009 – DAL: 11/70; PHI: 8/82
2010 – ATL: 2/30; PHI: 9/78
2011 – BUF: 4/40; PHI: 5/46
2012 – DAL: 13/75; PHI: 6/50
2013 – NYG: 12/136; PHI: 8/88
2013 – WAS: 4/39; PHI: 9/68
2014 – NYG: 8/106; PHI: 5/35
2015 – WAS: 8/70; PHI: 8/45
The Cowboys are 2/6 on challenges with Coleman going under the hood. Opponents are 1/5 and Replay Assistant is 5/11 with five of those decisions favoring Dallas.
The Eagles are 3/5 on challenging Coleman with the opposition going 4/12. Replay Assistant is 4/8 with four of those calls benefiting the Eagles.
If Mark Sanchez were to play a down against the Eagles, it would be the first time in his career he played against an NFL team for whom he used to play.
Romo is 10-6 against the Eagles with six of those wins being earned at Lincoln Financial Field.
Romo is 6-2 against Philadelphia with a 90.5 passer rating. On average, he goes 21/33 for 250 yards, one interception, one interception, and takes three sacks.
Romo’s 6-2 record in Philadelphia is the best among any NFC East quarterbacks in the history of Lincoln Financial Field.
This is the first time since 2003-04 the Cowboys will not have a 1,000-yard receiver.
Dez Bryant is tied for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns in the NFL with eight.
Bryant has the ninth-highest yards per reception with 15.9.
If Bryant finishes with less than eight targets against the Eagles, he will end 2016 with the third-fewest targets of his career. Currently he is at 95.
Every year, Cole Beasley sets a career high in targets, receptions, and yards. He is tied with his previous career high in touchdown receptions with five.
With 663 yards receiving, Jason Witten in on pace to have his second-lowest total of his career.
Witten’s 4.5 yards per reception is the fifth-lowest of his career.
Witten’s 44.2 yards per game is the third-lowest of his career. His second-lowest is 43.9 set in 2014.
The Cowboys are tied with the Chargers for the most sacks over the last four games with 14.
Over the last four games, opposing quarterbacks have compiled a 72.4 passer rating, the sixth-lowest in the NFL.
The Cowboys are also tied with the Giants for the sixth-most interceptions over the last four games with five.
The Cowboys defense has the absolute lowest yards per game surrendered in the NFL at 81.5.
The Cowboys are 1-3 on Jan. 1. Here are the results:
1966 – GB, 27-34 – L
1977 – MIN, 23-6 – W
2005 – Rams, 10-20 – L
2011 – @NYG, 14-31 – L
The Eagles are 2-0 on Jan. 1. Here are the results:
2005 – WAS, 20-31 – W
2011 – WAS, 34-10 – W
The Cowboys have three birthdays to celebrate on Jan. 1:
Billy Lothridge, P, 1964 – 1/1/1942
Billy Parks, WR, 1972 – 1/1/1948
Greg Schaum, DE, 1976 – 1/1/1954