'Boys/Eagles Preview & Prediction

The pressure is on Cowboys QB Tony Romo to prove he can make good decisions and avoid the huge mistakes that have become too commonplace in big games.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/28/08
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)
SERIES: 96th regular-season meeting. Dallas leads the series 53-42. Dallas has won two of the past three meetings. Dallas won earlier this season in Dallas 41-37. The Cowboys also won the last matchup in Philadelphia, 38-17. Dallas has faced no team more than the Eagles and has defeated them more than anybody except the Redskins (57).

KEYS TO THE GAME: The pressure is on Cowboys QB Tony Romo to prove he can make good decisions and avoid the huge mistakes that have become too commonplace in big games. One of the reasons he has relied so heavily on TE Jason Witten has been a lack of time in the pocket, which isn't likely to change against the blitz-happy Eagles. And one element lacking from Dallas' offense is the power run game they like to use late in games because RB Marion Barber isn't close to 100 percent. ... The key numbers to watch for the Eagles' offense is their third-down conversion rate and the number of touches for RB Brian Westbrook. Even in a tight game, coach Andy Reid got too one-dimensional last week, calling just 16 runs to 46 passes. The result was just three points, because the Eagles' passing game isn't geared toward converting third-and-long situations. QB Donovan McNabb should receive a boost with the expected return of WR Kevin Curtis.

KEY INJURIES: Dallas: Barber (toe) will be a game-time decision; LG Montrae Holland (ankle) is doubtful; Witten (ankle) will play. Eagles: DE Victor Abiamiri (foot sprain) isn't expected to play; Westbrook (knee) will play despite limited reps midweek.

NEED TO KNOW: The Cowboys reach the playoffs with a victory. The Eagles reach the playoffs with a win and a loss by Tampa Bay and Minnesota or Chicago. ... With 135 passing yards, McNabb will break his own single-season team record of 3,875 yards in 2004.

COWBOYS PERSONNEL NEWS: QB Tony Romo practiced Thursday after missing Wednesday with a viral infection. Romo remarked sarcastically that he "feels like 100 dollars."

--TE Jason Witten practiced Thursday for the first time all week and will play

against the Eagles. He has been bothered by a sprained ankle. --OT Marc Colombo finally signed the four-year, $22 million contract extension, just in time for Christmas.

"I am just excited to be able to stay here with my teammates," Colombo said. "It is a relief to have this finished and now I can focus completely on football. This is a place I love. This is where I got my second chance."

Colombo has gotten new life in Dallas after being a bust in Chicago.

--RB Marion Barber (toe) and safety Ken Hamlin (foot) practiced Thursday despite still being bothered by nagging injuries. Both are expected to try to play against the Eagles.

EAGLES PERSONNEL NEWS: MLB Stewart Bradley didn't practice for the second straight game. He's nursing rib and groin injuries and is very questionable for Sunday's game against Dallas.

--DE Victor Abiamiri won't play in Sunday's season finale against Dallas. He has a lisfranc sprain in his foot. He'll be replaced at left end by Juqua Parker.

--FS Brian Dawkins, who is nursing a lower back injury, didn't practice Thursday, but it was mainly to rest his back. He practiced Wednesday and is expected to play Sunday.

--RT Jon Runyan didn't practice Thursday. He has knee and ankle injuries. He will play Sunday, but his mobility will be limited against Cowboys LB Greg Ellis.

--WR Kevin Curtis, who missed last week's game with a calf strain, practiced for the second straight day and is expected to play Sunday against Dallas.

INSIDE THE DALLAS CAMP: Cowboys receiver Roy Williams has a warning for his teammates who have been teasing him about his Detroit history.

Williams was acquired in a trade with the Lions five weeks into the season. While his Cowboys face a must-win game to make the playoffs this Sunday at Philadelphia, the Lions are one loss away from being the first team in NFL history to go 0-16.

Williams' Cowboys teammates have been saying all week that he will be forever linked to the Lions because he's in the team picture.

Williams acknowledges as much but said the Cowboys will be in the same boat as the Lions if they don't beat the Eagles.

"That's what I told guys," Williams said. "They joke about me with the 0-16 Detroit thing and I just told them, `If we don't win this game, we're all in the same boat. We both are going to be watching the same playoff game next week.' They all understood that. That put it in perspective."

Williams, however, is frustrated with how he has been used in Dallas since coming over in the trade.

He has only 17 catches for 194 yards since being acquired in a trade nine games ago from Detroit. He has yet to have game with more than three catches.

"I know I am a player in this league," Williams said. "My thing is if you brought me in half the season you obviously know what I am capable of doing. You wouldn't have spent what you went to get a person. You know what I can do. I know what I can do. I can tell you what I can't do. I'm just waiting."

INSIDE THE PHILADELPHIA CAMP: After running the ball just 16 times in last week's 10-3 loss to the Washington Redskins, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was asked Thursday if his team will run the ball a little more this week against the Dallas Cowboys.

"We try to do what it will take to win that particular football game," Mornhinweg said. "There are a lot of things that happen, and that may happen during a football game, that many people on the outside don't quite know. Some little things that go into that situation as well."

It's not clear what Mornhinweg was referring to, although he later said there were "two significant injuries" that contributed to the fact that the Eagles threw the ball 46 times against the Redskins. One probably was the knee injury to wide receiver Hank Baskett. Baskett, the team's best blocking wideout, didn't play against Washington, but will play this week against Dallas.

The other likely is running back Brian Westbrook, who has been bothered most of the season by a sore knee. Westbrook had just 12 carries against Washington, but practiced Thursday, which would seem to indicate he's feeling pretty good.

"He hasn't practiced much the past, let's say, month, month-and-a-half," Mornhinweg said of Westbrook. "That he practiced today, that's a good thing, and hopefully, it'll pay off Sunday."

PREDICTION: Cowboys 28-23

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