(Editor's Note: Each week, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will present "6 Days to Sunday" for the upcoming game, presenting a daily update for each team as they head into the upcoming contest. This week, the Cowboys are looking to post a winning record this year by beating the Eagles in the season finale.)
WHAT: Dallas Cowboys (8-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 31 - Noon (Central)
WHERE: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
TELEVISION: Fox (Kenny Albert & Ronde Barber)
The Cowboys downgraded wide receiver Cole Beasley (illness) from questionable to out of Sunday's season finale against the Eagles. He is not traveling with the team to Philadelphia. The Cowboys had already ruled out defensive ends David Irving (concussion) and Benson Mayowa (back/illness) and placed left tackle Tyron Smith (knee) and cornerback Orlando Scandrick (back) on Reserve/Injured. Beasley's absence Sunday could mean more snaps for rookie wideout Ryan Switzer, who has primarily handled return duties this season.
The Eagles announced that rookie cornerback Sidney Jones would be activated off the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list and be available to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Cowboys. Jones, the Eagles' second-round pick, tore his Achilles' tendon in his March Pro Day workout and likely would have been a first-round pick if not for the injury.
Of the 15 players the team listed on the injury report, only David Irving (concussion) and Benson Mayowa (back/illness) have been ruled out for Sunday's game. However, the club did put Tyron Smith and Orlando Scandrick on IR on Friday. Players to watch for Sunday include receiver Cole Beasley (illness), who did not practice all week. Running back Rod Smith (back) missed the last two practices this week and is questionable for the game. If Beasley doesn't play, look for Lance Lenoir to get some reps having been called up from the practice squad this week.
The Cowboys might have a future Hall of Famer at tight end, but Philly arguably has one of the best current players at the position in Zach Ertz, who was nominated for the Pro Bowl. Ertz ranked second in the NFL among tight ends with eight TD catches and also ranked among the top five in both receptions 72 and yards (800). Last year against the Cowboys in Week 17, Ertz had one his best career games, catching 13 balls for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Not only did the veteran tight end sound very sure this won't be his final game of his career, Jason Witten also made it clear he has every intention of not only starting this week in Philly but playing the entire game. While there is a growing perception that some of the key players might sit out this week or not play a full game, Witten isn't thinking that way. "This whole organization is about fight, competing, playing together," Witten said. "It's another opportunity for us to go out there and play and I kind of establish who we are even though our season is ending. We didn't achieve the ultimate goal and we understand that. But let's play this game the right way. I think it says a lot about what our team is all about."
While the Eagles have their starting quarterback on IR with a knee injury, the rest of the team has been relatively healthy, evident by having just one player not practicing on Thursday. That doesn't mean they won't rest some of their key players this week since the No. 1 seed in the NFC has been wrapped up. But only defensive end Brandon Graham missed practice with an ankle injury. Graham is one of the best players on an Eagles defense that ranks fifth overall in total defense and first in the NFL against the run. Graham has also been very good against the pass. His 9.5 sacks this year not only leads the Eagles but his a career-high for the eight-year veteran.
While Jason Garrett said earlier in the day that all healthy players would indeed play this week in Philly, that still doesn't mean a full squad will be available. The team listed 12 players on the injury report from Wednesday's practice, with five of them missing the entire practice. The only real surprise from that group was receiver Cole Besaley, who did not participate due to an illness. Defensive tackle David Irving (concussion), tackles Tyron Smith (knee) and La'el Collins (back) and linebacker Anthony Hitchens (knee) did not practice. Wide receiver Brice Butler has missed nearly a month with a foot injury but practiced in full. (Full Injury Report)
By beating the Raiders Monday night in the final seconds, the Eagles wrapped up the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs. With that, the question all week for Philly will be the availability of their starters. Last season, the roles were flipped in this very game as the Cowboys had the top seed in the NFC secured heading to Philly where the Eagles had already been eliminated from the postseason. With Dak Prescott only playing a quarter and Ezekiel Elliott sitting out the entire game, the Cowboys struggled to resemble a 13-2 squad. The Eagles played inspired and handed the Cowboys a 27-13 defeat. That game seemed to propel the Eagles this year to the best record in football while the Cowboys ended up losing their next game in the playoffs, a divisional round defeat to Green Bay.