Cowboys - Eagles Preview & Prediction

The Cowboys will clinch home-field advantage in the NFC with a win over Philadelphia and a loss by Green Bay.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET

GAMEDATE: 12/16/07

SURFACE: Sportfield Realgrass

TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver

SERIES: 97th meeting. Cowboys lead the series, 54-42. They won the first '07 meeting in early November, beating the Eagles at the Linc, 38-17. The Eagles defense was unable to stop Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo or wide receiver Terrell Owens. Romo threw just five incompletions in 25 attempts. Owens caught 10 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles know where the pressure will be coming from -- Cowboys OLBs DeMarcus Ware and Shaun Ellis have combined for 15.5 sacks the past eight games. Philadelphia will try to use their aggressive nature to their advantage by having RB Brian Westbrook attack the edges and using him on screens and dump off passes. QB Donovan McNabb also needs to start putting faith in his receivers and try to stretch the field more. ... Take out helpless Miami, and the Eagles have given up 10 TD passes, 10 passes of 30 yards or longer and 7.44 yards per pass attempt the past four games. One of those was against Dallas, when Romo wasn't sacked once and abused Philadelphia's struggling corners. The Eagles need to seriously ratchet up the pressure if they hope to avoid a repeat.

KEY INJURIES: Eagles: RB Correll Buckhalter (concussion) won't play; TE L.J. Smith (knee/ribs) is very questionable; FS Brian Dawkins (back) hopes to play, but that's still uncertain. Cowboys: WR Terry Glenn (knee) practiced this week and hopes to return before the end of the season.

FAST FACTS: The Cowboys will clinch home-field advantage with a win and a loss by Green Bay. ... Cowboys WR Terrell Owens' 14 TD catches is tied with Frank Clarke (1962) for the franchise record. ... Westbrook has 1,752 total yards, the fifth-highest total in franchise history.

EAGLES PERSONNEL NEWS: Rookie running back Tony Hunt could see his most significant action of the season Sunday against Dallas.

Hunt, a third-round pick in last April's draft, has been inactive for six games this season and has just 10 rushing attempts. But with Brian Westbrook's main backup, Correll Buckhalter, not expected to play because of a concussion, Hunt will be activated this week.

The primary reason Hunt hasn't been used much this season is because head coach Andy Reid is reluctant to put running backs on the field until they master pass-protection.

"I'd rather be patient and learn how to do things right than rush out there and make mistakes," Hunt said. "You have to understand what the system is. Some teams can play a rookie back and keep him out of passing situations. Others can't. Here, it's about learning pass protection, so you have to be patient."

Said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg: "We're comfortable with him in virtually any aspect of the game. Early in the season, when he was active, we used him in some situational aspects of our game. He certainly could get some snaps."

COWBOYS PERSONNEL NEWS: --WR Terry Glenn is still holding out hope of playing Sunday against the Eagles. He caught passes in practices the past two days for the first time all season.

"Don't rule me out," Glenn said. "Don't rule me out."

Still, coach Wade Phillips said it's unlikely that Glenn will play. The Cowboys are targeting next week's game against the Panthers for a possible return.

--CB Anthony Henry looks to finally be back to normal after suffering from a high ankle sprain for most of the season. He suffered the injury Sept. 30, then missed three games and played through the injury since.

"I thought Anthony Henry looked better today than he has in awhile," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.

--WR Patrick Crayton, who suffered a sprained foot against the Lions, will be ready to go on Sunday. "I'm good. No limitations," he said.

--CB Terence Newman practiced on Thursday after missing Wednesday with a sprained toe and lingering knee tendinitis. He felt a lot better, according to coach Wade Phillips, and should start against the Eagles Sunday.

--TE Jason Witten needs two touchdowns to tie Billy Joe Dupree's team record for touchdowns in a season by a tight end. Witten has seven and the record is nine.

"I hope he busts that thing wide open and makes that mark so high they're going to have to reach to get it," Dupree said. "He's got a chance to do that the way this year is going."

INSIDE THE EAGLES CAMPS: --RB Correll Buckhalter was held out of practice for the second straight day as a result of the concussion he suffered Sunday. He failed the team's baseline testing and isn't expected to play Sunday against the Cowboys.

--RB Tony Hunt, who has been inactive for six of the Eagles' 13 games and has just 10 carries this season, will be activated for Sunday's game against Dallas and will back-up starter Brian Westbrook.

--TE L.J. Smith, who injured his knee Sunday against the Giants, didn't practice again Thursday and isn't expected to play Sunday against Dallas.

--TE Matt Schobel likely will start in place of injured L.J. Smith Sunday against Dallas. Schobel has just 10 receptions this season.

--RT Jon Runyan missed a second straight day of practice with a sore knee. But Runyan, who has played much of the season with a fractured tail bone, almost certainly will start Sunday against Dallas.

INSIDE THE COWBOYS CAMP: The Cowboys' focus on Sunday will be to stop Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.

Westbrook is the last running back to top the 100-yard barrier on the Cowboys defense, totaling 122 yards last December. He is the second leading rusher in the NFC with 1,110 yards and is coming off a 116-yard effort against the Giants.

He is simply the focal point of the Eagles offense.

"He's the driver's seat of that thing," Cowboys defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. "He's the one that makes that thing run."

Considering the Cowboys gave up a season-high 152 yards against the Detroit Lions last week, look for the Eagles to provide a heavy dose of Westbrook on Sunday.

The Cowboys are certainly expecting it.

"Philly is going to try do the same things," linebacker Bradie James said. "We are going to be ready."

The Cowboys say they will be better against the Eagles because they have corrected the run fits that plagued them.

Safety Roy Williams fell on the sword for the early run woes.

"We have to work on it," Williams said. "We got gashed on the ground, maybe one or two players were out of position. Okay I was out of position. Let's put it on me. I gave up a touchdown and a couple of big runs. So sue me."

PREDICTION: Cowboys 33-23


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