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Michael Taylor 28th Dec 2008 - 8:45

NFC East rivals aim for one play-off spot

The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys meet at the Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday evening safe in the knowledge that only one of them can continue their season into January.

When these teams met in week two it resulted in one of the matches of the season with both offences finding the end zone with great regularity in 41-37 Cowboys win.

It was in this match, in which the lead changed hands seven times, that the two teams suddenly showed the NFL their potential but, all too frequently this year, neither of them has reached this playing level.

The Cowboys will feel especially dismayed if they fail to make it to January having started the season as one of the favourites.

Their roster is the envy of many with Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Terrell Owens and DeMarcus Ware all commanding massive sums of money but, with the exception of Ware, they have not imposed this superiority on a regular basis.

Defence has been their biggest problem and, if it hadn't been for Ware's MVP-type season, they may have already been eliminated and under-fire head coach Wade Phillips sacked.

While Dallas have Ware, Philadelphia have Brian Westbrook and the throw-catching, Pro Bowl running back has all to commonly carried the entire Eagles offence on his shoulders.

Donovan McNabb has endured a torrid time at points of this season so, if it hadn't been for Westbrook's presence, the Eagles would have been more like dodos - extinct well before final day.

Philadelphia are in a slightly different position to the Cowboys as even a win would not necessarily enable them to make the play-offs, as Chicago or Minnesota and Tampa Bay have to lose - the Bucs are particularly unlikely to lose to the Oakland Raiders.

Whatever the outcome, head coach Andy Reid can feel proud of his Eagles after bouncing back from being no-hopers to blowing it for themselves in a terrible week sixteen performance in Washington.

The history behind this December clash makes for an interesting read, one that would be a horror novel for any Cowboys fans.

Dallas are traditionally a poor end-of-season franchise having failed to post a winning record in December for twelve years straight, while the Eagles have won the past five December meetings between the sides.

Throw into this the fact that Dallas have failed to notch up a final day win since 1999 then you get a picture of how this match may pan out and the great value the 5/6 about a Philadelphia win may prove to be.

The Cowboys just do not represent good value at evens, despite their strength on paper. Terrell Owens has caused trouble in the dressing room and while this is not unsual TO behaviour it cannot have helped team morale, also Tashard Choice has been a good replacement for the fading Marion Barber but in comparison to the Phily's Westbrook...well there is no comparison!

An interesting market to look at, given the amount of lead changes in the last game, could be the double result or, more specifically the 13/2 about Dallas leading at half-time and Philadelphia coming back to win the game.

The best value bets in this one look like either Philadelphia to win by 1-6 points (10/3) or Dallas by the same margin (4/1) as it is hard to see either team dominating from start to finish.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles - view all betting

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