Behind Enemy Lines NFL Week 17: Cowboys vs. Eagles

By Jeric Griffin

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Mike Burke from and I have crossed enemy lines once again to examine this Sunday night’s matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and your Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. We’ve discussed everything from the Eagles’ playoff chances to Jason Garrett’s shot at becoming the permanent head coach in Dallas. Below are my questions for Mike and his answers. Also, be sure to check out my answers in his Invading the Nest segment.

What is the playoff road looking like for the Eagles?

After failing to beat the Vikings, the Eagles are locked into the three seed which means they will host a playoff game next week.  They will more than likely have to face Packers in the first round.  If they win, they would travel to Soldier Field to take on the Bears.  If the Eagles can take down the Bears, they would more than likely play the winner of the Falcons and Saints matchup.
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How will the Eagles’ road to the Super Bowl be changed by a win or loss against the Cowboys in Week 17?

As I mentioned, there is zero impact in the standings this week regardless of the outcome of the game.  If they would get blown out, it might have a negative impact on their confidence.  Not all the starters will play this week, but there will still be a lot of guys playing who need to step their game up heading into the postseason.

How concerned are the Eagles about their Tuesday night loss to the Vikings?

The way the Eagles played was completely unexpected.  I attended the game in person.  Spirits were very high heading into the game and were crushed as we walked out.  We had a chance of getting a two seed for the playoffs and a first round bye, but completely threw away those chances. The Vikings were a lowly team with nothing to lose and came into Philadelphia and handed our butts to us.
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Was the loss to the Vikings a fluke for Michael Vick or a cause for concern?

I don’t really think you can downplay the loss.  It was easily Vick’s worst performance of the season.  He made poor decisions and didn’t throw the ball with accuracy.  Although he only threw for one interception, he would have thrown for a lot more if the Vikings secondary could catch the football.

It’s hard to believe that Vick won’t see a lot of pressure in the next game he starts.  We saw him crumble under it against the Vikings and teams will try to repeat that.  He’ll have to step up and play at a better level.

What do you expect the Eagles to do with Kevin Kolb next season given they keep Vick?

It’s kind of hard to say.  Kolb’s contract was set up so that the bulk of his money would be received this season.  He’s barely getting paid anything next season (by NFL quarterback standards), so the Eagles won’t be hurting financially if they keep him.

However, I think the Eagles will move them if they get the right offer.  There are going to be teams out there who want him.  It’s just going to be a matter of whether or not the Eagles can get a trade deal they’re happy with. 
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How do the Eagles keep Vick from getting hit by the Cowboys’ defenders like he did by the Vikings’?

Vick won’t play this week so that he can rest his quad injury, but I’ll talk about how the Eagles will look to protect Kolb.  There are a few things you can do when a team is getting a ton of pressure on you.

The Eagles are a great screen team and if a ton of defenders are getting in, a running back can slip out and have a nice matchup down the field.  I’d like to see the Eagles get McCoy going out of the backfield often.

The Eagles will also look to hit on some short passes this weekend.  That is Kolb’s bread and butter so look for some slants and outs.

The Eagles also may use more sets where they keep a running back in the backfield to block.  Although McCoy struggled in protection last year, he has been much better this season.

Do you expect DeSean Jackson to have a monster game like he did last time against the Cowboys?

Not really.  I don’t think he’ll play all that much this week as the Eagles will look to rest him for next week.  If I’m going to pick any Eagles receiver to have a big game, I’m going to go with a sleeper, Riley Cooper.

What are your playoff expectations for the Eagles?

I think they’ll get knocked out in the NFC Championship.  They’ve been pretty good at doing that over the years.

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