Pressure up the middle will be one big key to this game. Do you think Jason Hatcher has one more big game left in him for the Cowboys?
Nick: Good question and he certainly needs to. I think he played well the first time around against the Eagles and that's usually a good indication what kind of day it'll be for the offense, based off the pressure up the middle. He's been quiet the last few games but he did make a big play on the last snap against the Redskins. His pressure forced Cousins to throw it away. But you're right, he needs to be at his best.
David: It's been more than a month since Hatcher's last big game – his two-sack night against New York. He provided one of the memorable images of the season that night when he smeared his face with fake blood after the game. It seems like a certainty he'll be moving on when this season does end, whether that's Sunday night or in 2014. So there's no time like the present to leave one last impression. With DeMarcus Ware and George Selvie both hobbled, he needs to show up if the pass rush is going to do anything to slow Philadelphia down.
Everyone keeps saying injuries killed this defense. But, actually other than Lee coming back, who was on roster this year that will turn this defense into upper level defense next season?
Nick: I'm not really seeing your logic here. I don't think next season really matters. The fact is, the Cowboys went into this year, thinking they would have Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff on the defensive line and a DeMarcus Ware that was ready to return to the old D-Ware. Not to mention Tyrone Crawford who looked primed for a breakout year. That's where the injuries really hurt this team. The other ones to linebackers and the secondary have been issues, but the big ones were up front.
David: Like Nick said, I think the bulk of the injury problems were directed at this season: Spencer, Ratliff and the rest of the defensive line. Lee and Morris Claiborne will be back in 2014, though both players have a lot to prove about their durability going forward. Other than that, I think you're going to see this defense start to rebuild. The window of opportunity to have three Pro Bowlers on the line together has closed. Hatcher is likely leaving in the spring, and Ware is on the back half of his career. I imagine defense will be the priority for this team in the draft, and in whatever free agency moves they can afford to make.