Slumping Dallas, which has allowed 132 points and 14 touchdown passes in its last four games, travels to Seattle where the defending NFC champions will be waiting for them with a injury-riddled secondary. In other words, one deeply flawed team faces a deeply troubled one, which is why between them they’ve lost six of their last eight.
Dallas’ young quarterback has gone form toast of the town to toast in the past five games. Romo’s record as a starter went from 4-1 — with a quarterback rating of 110 — to 2-3 and his efficiency rating has been nearly halved. But an injury riddled secondary awaits him.
Seattle’s starting cornerbacks are injured, leaving coach Mike Holmgren with rookie Kelly Jennings and converted safety Jordan Babineaux against Romo. That should make Cowboys receivers Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens happy. That leaves the Dallas’ defense to stop the running of Shaun Alexander and a passing game that is lethal if its receivers don’t drop the ball.
Dallas should win, even though it hasn't been able to muster much of a pass rush since Greg Ellis was injured and forced it into a 4-3 defense to try and protect their weak-link safeties on passing downs.
Then there’s the fading Giants, losers of six of their last eight, against their long-time rivals, the Eagles. Philadelphia is the league's hottest team, which is crucial because playoff success relies on momentum. Since losing quarterback Donovan McNabb to an injury on Nov. 19, backup Jeff Garcia has performed like the Pro Bowler he once — thanks to a big boost from running back Brian Westbrook.
The Eagles have won five straight with Garcia at the helm, using a nearly even mix of the run and pass. That balance and the Giants’ many problems on and off the field bodes well for Philadelphia, but it will need to use Westbrook often and prevent the Giants' Tiki Barber from taking over the game.
That leaves us with Philadelphia vs. New Orleans and Dallas against Chicago. It would seem these are two lock victories for the home teams, but the Saints are an unproven playoff team and Chicago isn't nearly as good as a 13-3 record would indicate. The Bears don't have two of their top defensive linemen and quarterback Rex Grossman continues to struggle.
Grossman posted a zero quarterback rating in the Bears' regular-season finale, going 2-for-12 in the first half with three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) before he was pulled in favor of veteran Brian Griese. That has been something fans have been clamoring to see for weeks despite Chicago’s record. Still, Griese was only 5-of-15 and threw two picks himself.
Chicago's predicament is similar to the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who used a stingy defense and a low-risk offense to win the Super Bowl. The Bears' defense seems likely to give Romo fits regardless of what Chicago’s offense does.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
The Cinderella story continues.
The Saints explosive offense and scrambling defense should carry them into the Super Bowl against the Chargers, where MVP candidate Drew Brees should exact revenge on his former team and give us one of the feel-good stories on the year.
PFT: Tom Brady, who turns 36 in August, says he has "never felt better throwing the football" and his confidence is peaking.
2013 SNF Schedule
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