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Eagles-Cowboys showdown shaken to core by loss of Romo

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The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys have both been through rollercoaster seasons. Yet for all the Eagles and Cowboys have endured, no plot twist was bigger than the one uncovered by ESPN's Adam Schefter on Dec. 23. With one tweet and one MRI, the entire picture of the NFC East championship game was changed, due to the news that Tony Romo wouldn't be in it.

Officially, the Cowboys denied that Romo would be out for the season, from a back injury he suffered on Dec. 22. However, Schefter insisted that he wouldn't be able to play and needs surgery, which would keep him from facing the Eagles and any potential playoff opponent. Yet if Romo doesn't play, almost no one will pick the Cowboys to have any playoff opponents.

The Eagles were already favored to beat the Cowboys in Sunday's winner-take-all showdown, despite being on the road. However, the odds have now made Philadelphia a full touchdown favorite instead of a mere field goal favorite, according to Schefter.

Nevertheless, coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones haven't officially ruled Romo out, although the Cowboys will look for another quarterback to back up potential starter Kyle Orton. Even if Romo makes a miraculous recovery, the Eagles know he won't be 100 percent and will still have the edge.

As such, the biggest foe for Philadelphia this week may not be Dallas, but overconfidence. The Eagles have been a underdog all season, in contrast to being the hunted favorite for much of the Andy Reid era. When Reid's teams were expected to win in December and January, they almost always crumbled -- so can Chip Kelly's first team change the pattern?

The Eagles were already blown out by a poor Minnesota Vikings team on Dec. 15 that didn't even have Adrian Peterson, so they might have already learned their lesson. Regardless, as much as Philadelphia has to adjust and not get carried away, it is nothing compared to what Dallas is going through.

Garrett may be able to deny in public that Romo is gone, at least so far. Once the Cowboys can't pretend anymore, harsh reality and hard choices are on the way. They have already been to hell and back with Romo -- often because of him -- yet are they prepared for life without him at the worst time possible? What's more, are the Eagles prepared for it?


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