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Eagles Lose NFC East Battle to Cowboys, But Can They Win the Playoff War?

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The Eagles' deplorable loss to the Dallas Cowboys  last week creates many questions for this weeks Wild Card Playoff  match-up. Former Eagles Linebacker Frank LeMaster

Are the Cowboys that good? Did the Eagles just have a bad day? Was the Eagles six game winning streak a result of a weak schedule? Or has the team learned how to consistently win?......Or for you conspiracy campers, did the Eagles' coaching staff set up the Cowboys by holding back some surprises that may help the Eagles beat the Cowboys this week and advance in the playoffs?

As an ex-player of many playoff games, I believe the Eagles have a psychological advantage over the Cowboys. It is very hard for any team to beat another team three times in a row, especially in one season. The Eagles know the loss this week was a fluke and that they can beat the Cowboys if they play up to their ability.

Let’s examine what we do know about the Eagles for this season, and more importantly what’s in store for this week. The Eagles have won six out of seven times over the last seven weeks and have developed what I call a sustaining momentum going into the playoffs. The Cowboys have a three game winning streak, but quarterback Tony Romo  is known for choking in big games.

The Eagles have developed a true confidence in themselves as well as their ability to win despite not having Brian Westbrook  for most of the season and losing several key offensive linemen to injuries. Their rookies and young players such as Desean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek have electrified us this season with their play. At the same time, they have complemented and boosted the play of veterans Donovan McNabb, Leonard Weaver, Trent Cole, and Asante Samuel. Together the team has developed a winning combination.

I believe that Andy Reid  and his coaching staff went into last weeks Dallas game thinking that it would be nice to win the game, but it is much more important to focus on the end game: beating Dallas this week and trying to advance to the Super Bowl.

I am not saying that the coaching staff did not want to win the game last week, but possibly that Coach Reid held back exposing important defensive and offensive schemes they knew would be more effective against the Cowboys this week. Such as,why did defensive coordinator Sean McDermott not come with a very aggressive blitzing package to pressure Romo just as he has done in past wins over Dallas? Why did Andy Reid not use McCoy and Weaver more frequently in the running game as he has done during the Eagles winning streak? And why not find more creative ways to free up Jackson, Maclin and Jason Avant  to make the big play?

Andy Reid has been down this playoff road many more times than Dallas Head Coach Wade Phillips. The Cowboys are currently gloating and feeling very good about themselves.

Guess what Dallas Cowboys, you have just been set up.

Prediction:

Eagles 24  Cowboys 17

Frank LeMaster is a former All-Pro linebacker who played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1974 to 1982.