This Sunday, the 3-5 Cowboys will go on the road and take on the 3-5 Eagles. It's a divisional rivalry rich in history, but this year both teams have really failed to live up to expectations. Many picked Philly to win the NFC East. Some picked the Cowboys to at least be a playoff contender. Neither is anywhere close to fulfilling those predictions.
Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels predicted in their NBC broadcast of the Falcons game last week that either the Cowboys or Eagles would be "dead" after this game. They are right. The loser of this game will pretty much be done for and can start preparing for the 2013 season.
I have never witnessed a season in which these these two teams have mirrored each other like they have this year. Let's take a closer look at just how:
Head Coaches On The Hot Seat
Both Jason Garrett and Andy Reid will be on the hot seat if they don't finish out their season strongly.
Reid has been the head coach of the Eagles since 1999. It seems like when Reid doesn't have the Eagles on top of the NFC East, his job is in jeopardy. Reid has been one of the most successful coaches in the past few decades. Maybe it is time for the Eagles to go with a change, but he will have no problem finding another job in the NFL.
Garrett, on the other hand, hasn't been the head coach of the Cowboys for too long. He was handed a sinking ship back in 2010 after Jerry Jones canned Wade Phillips. Garrett should probably be given more time before he is ran out of Dallas, but Jones could be tempted to make a coaching change if Garrett doesn't finish out the season strongly. To complicate matters, if a big name hits the market next off-season, it would become a very difficult decision for Jones.
Both Quarterbacks Are Under The Microscope
Each team has had their share of drama this season. Both are talented teams that have made too many mistakes and committed too many turnovers. Both also havestarting quarterbacks who double as one of the most controversial players in the NFL.
Michael Vick signed a huge contract with the Eagles just a few seasons ago when he showed the NFL that he was still one of the most dangerous players in league history. However, since signing that contract, Vick has been sort of a disappointment. There have been countless rumors that Reid was going to roll with rookie quarterback Nick Foles if Vick continued to struggle with his turnovers.
A major problem with Vick has been ball security. He has nine interceptions and 10 fumbles so far in 2012. The Eagles can release Vick this offseason and be off the hook for his big contract. If they decide to keep him, they will be paying him $16.5 million in 2013. Vick is not only fighting to save the Eagles season, he is fighting to keep his starting job. Right now, his future as a Philadelphia Eagle is in serious jeopardy.
I believe that Vick has been placed into a difficult situation in Philly. Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and now Todd Herremans have all hit the injured reserve, leaving the Eagles scrambling to plug and fill their offensive line. Reid has also underutilized running back LeSean McCoy.
Tony Romo is equally controversial, but not for all of the same reasons. The don't have the same off-the-field issues, but they do compare in the turnover category. Romo has 13 interceptions and four fumbles so far in 2012. Romo is on pace for a career-high in interceptions, however, he is also on pace for a career-high in passing yards.
Romo is 32 years old and is probably starting to finally lose some of his athletic ability. If he is truly starting to regress as a quarterback, then the Cowboys really have to decide about what to do with Romo for the future. His contract ends in 2014, but there have been talks of a contract extension. Granted most of those talks took place earlier in the season.
It's time for the Cowboys to draft Romo's replacement for the future because they don't have that option currently on the roster. The Cowboys have ignored the need of drafting a quarterback in the NFL Draft since Romo became the starter back in 2006. I'm not saying they need to get rid of Romo right away, but it may be wise to not extend his contract and start preparing for his departure in 2014.
Talent Doesn't Necessarily Equal Wins
Each one of these teams are extremely talented. Everyone may not agree with that statement, but I look over these rosters and see a are load of talented players. The Eagles have spent a lot of money in free agency. Andy Reid is a great football mind who knows how to spot talent in the draft. Philly has also made some very good trades the past few years to upgrade their football team.
As for the Cowboys, they haven't spent a lot of money on the free agent market recently. Cornerback Brandon Carr is the most recent marquee signing, but other than Carr, there haven't been too many signings that make you take notice. The Cowboys are also starting to draft better. Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter and Morris Claiborne are all top picks and look like they will be a big part of the future in Dallas.
Both teams sport a lot of talent on both sides of the football, but that talent hasn't translated into wins. When these two teams prepare for battle Sunday, they will be entering the game with premier players all over the field. Talent isn't a problem for these two teams. All it may take is one off-season to rearrange and fine tune some things.