'Boys - Eagles preview & prediction

With a playoff berth already in place, the Dallas Cowboys have bigger things in mind Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 1/03/10
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles head into Sunday's showdown for the NFC East title breaking in new starting C Nick Cole, a guard sliding over to replace injured Jamaal Jackson. Cole has had a week of practice after struggling a bit after Jackson went down last Sunday. The Eagles are also working RB Brian Westbrook back into the mix more. But Dallas' defensive weakness is in deep coverage, and that's where the Eagles will attack with big-play WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin - if Cole & Co. can give QB Donovan McNabb time. The Cowboys are a physical offense up front that typically comes out looking to use RBs Marion Barber and Felix Jones to set up the pass. But QB Tony Romo led the way in the first meeting, passing for 307 yards with completions to seven different receivers. A concern for Dallas is short-yardage after failing to convert two fourth-and-1s last Sunday following a loss to the Chargers in which Barber was stuffed three straight times at the goal line.

FAST FACTS: Eagles CB Asante Samuels' nine interceptions are the most by an Eagle since Bill Bradley had nine in 1972. ... Romo has nine touchdown passes and one interception over the past five games.

PERSONNEL NEWS: Eagles- QB Michael Vick practiced Thursday for the first time since suffering a quadriceps contusion two weeks ago against San Francisco, giving hope that he might play Sunday against Dallas. Last week, unable to run, Vick was the team's emergency quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.

--S/KR Quintin Demps practiced Thursday and said he expected to return kickoffs Sunday against Dallas. But special teams coach Ted Daisher wasn't ready to commit to him yet.

--QB Donovan McNabb, who tweaked his hamstring last week in the Denver game, has practiced all week and hasn't been hampered by the injury at all. He insists it will not hinder his mobility.

--RB Brian Westbrook has had a good week of practice and seems to be over his most recent concussion. He got 11 touches in last week's game and will get about the same type of workload this week as he rotates with LeSean McCoy and fullback Leonard Weaver.

--CB Sheldon Brown, who already had played through a hamstring injury, suffered an ankle injury in last week's game, but returned to the game and played well. He has been a full practice participant all week.

Cowboys- TE Jason Witten acknowledges being motivated by last year's 44-6 loss to the Eagles in the season finale. But he said this team is different and he hopes the outcome will be different Sunday.

"We still felt we could win that game," Witten said. "But the focus this team has had, the preparation, is a totally different feel.

"I think that has shown over the last few weeks, not just the off-the-field stuff, but on the field, the way we're playing, the way Tony (Romo) is playing and all that goes into that. I think we're all just feeding off one another.

"We've earned the right to get to this spot. Yeah, that was good making the playoffs. We're one of 12 teams. But we're still playing for a lot more than that. We were talking about that earlier. If we can win this game, it gives us a huge platform to win in the playoffs.

"We know win or lose, we've got to move forward. That's what good teams do."

--K Shaun Suisham was the beneficiary of the team moving Thursday's practice to Cowboys Stadium. Sunday will be in his first game kicking there as a member of the Cowboys. He missed two kicks there earlier this season when he was with the Redskins.

Suisham made a 54-yarder during the early stages of practice.

"He kicked the ball very, very well today," coach Wade Phillips said. "He didn't miss a kick. That was good."

--LB DeMarcus Ware is back in the Pro Bowl. He leads the Cowboys with 11 sacks, but he acknowledges it has been a tough season. He has battled foot, hand and neck injuries and went sackless for the first four games.

"I think it's a hard-work thing, and you try to be consistent every year," Ware said. "If you play well, they vote you in. It was four games where I went without a sack, but I was getting pressure.

"That's just part of the game. I feel good. I don't feel any lag, and it's the 16th game but a lot of guys have stepped up (despite injuries). My neck is not stiff at all. It's good."

--G Kyle Kosier was named the winner of the Ed Block Courage award, voted on by teammates. Kosier was honored for his ability to battle back from a foot fracture that sidelined him last season. "With the list of the guys that have won it, it's an honor to have my peers think of me that way," Kosier said.

INSIDE THE CAMPS: Eagles- Special teams coach Ted Daisher still wasn't ready to commit to Quintin Demps as his kickoff returner for Sunday's big game against the Dallas Cowboys, but Demps was.

"Oh yeah, I'll be back there," said Demps, who injured his ankle two weeks ago and missed last week's game against Denver. "A little (anti-inflammatory) shot, man. I'll be full-speed ready to go."

Since Ellis Hobbs went down with a season-ending spine injury in early-November, Demps and Macho Harris both have returned kickoffs. Demps has been more effective, averaging 25.8 yards per attempt. Harris has averaged just 20.7 and fumbled two returns last week, including one that set up a Denver touchdown.

In addition, Harris also is splitting time at free safety with Sean Jones. So the Eagles would prefer to have Demps handle the kickoffs.

"His ankle is day-to-day," Daisher said. "We're still not sure what he is going to be able to do or what he is not going to be able to do. Victor Harris would still be in the mix. We have to get some things corrected with him, but he would be the next guy."

Another option is wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. But he is playing almost every snap on offense.

"He'd be in the mix also," Daisher said. "We're working both guys and just going to wait and see how the health of Demps is and just work and see how it works out the next couple of days."

Cowboys- Receiver Roy Williams said last week's game was a wakeup call for him -- he had two drops in the first half and didn't see the ball again.

He believes his disappointing season has gotten to the point where quarterback Tony Romo and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett have lost trust in him.

Some snaps are being given to rookie Kevin Ogletree, and Williams said if he doesn't play better, he could very well lose his job.

"You know I have to get the confidence of my quarterback, because I didn't get a look after the first half," Williams said. "I didn't get a look in the second half. That's telling me that my quarterback has lost confidence in me, and so has the coordinator as far as calling plays for me.

"That's not on them. I don't blame them. I blame myself. I've got to get my crap together and try to help this team win some games in the playoffs."

The Cowboys remain supported of Williams publicly, however. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he does not believe that Romo and Garrett have lost confidence in Williams.

"I don't believe that is the case at all," Jones said. "On a personal basis and on a professional basis, I have not (lost confidence in Williams). I know the kinds of plays he is capable of making and can make. I think we will see those as we go into Philadelphia and the playoffs. So I feel very good that he is on our team and out there with a chance to make plays."

Romo agreed:

"No one has lost any confidence in Roy," said Romo, who added that he appreciated that Williams wanted to improve. "Roy is going to be a huge part of this going forward. He knows that. Hopefully we're all going to have some good football ahead of us."

PREDICTION: Eagles 20-19

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