The Philadelphia Eagles got a glimpse of what life could have been on Dec. 26. The Chicago Bears -- who the Eagles slaughtered just days ago -- learned that they will face an injured Aaron Rodgers for their divisional title after all, and were immediately brushed aside as underdogs. As such, the Eagles had to hope that Tony Romo wouldn't make a similar recovery for the Dallas Cowboys, yet it was finally ruled out when Romo had back surgery on Dec. 27.
Rodgers had eight weeks to heal before he was allowed to run the Packers again, whereas Romo has battled a back injury for just five days. Despite getting an epidural earlier this week, Romo still had to undergo season-ending back surgery on Dec. 27, according to coach Jason Garrett. Kyle Orton will now officially lead the Cowboys against the Eagles, after Dallas put it off until the last possible moment.
Given the high stakes for the Cowboys and the unpredictable nature of owner Jerry Jones, they could have gotten away with rushing Romo back anyway. But now that Dallas can't be accused of sacrificing Romo for the division, and now that it will be a big underdog to Philadelphia, a lot of the pressure is gone.
Logically, there is no reason to expect the Cowboys to win without Romo, especially since they lost two straight division title games with him in 2011 and 2012. However, logic has often been in short supply in Dallas this season, both on and off the field and in good and bad ways.
As for the Eagles, they have stayed in the shadows and prepared for everything. Yet despite it all, this is still a Philadelphia team led by a coach and quarterback who've never played a game like this before, and who were overwhelmed by Dallas on Oct. 20 at home.
A lot has changed in the two months since that day -- the least of which may be a sidelined Romo. Today, that worst case scenario was finally confirmed for Dallas, but its other worst case scenario of a season-ending loss isn't set in stone yet.