Cowboys play underdog card

Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is pushed out of bounds by Buccaneers cornerback E.J. Biggers in...

Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is pushed out of bounds by Buccaneers cornerback E.J. Biggers in Tampa, Fla., Dec. 17, 2011. (PIERRE DuCHARME/Reuters)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

TORONTO - It seems as if Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is using a large dose of reverse psychology in an effort to motivate his team for Saturday’s crucial game.

The Cowboys are at home against the Philadelphia Eagles and if you believe Jones, both he and his team should be quaking in their boots.

Okay, the Eagles poleaxed the Cowboys in their earlier meeting back on Oct. 30 when they administered a 34-7 beating, but we think Jones is adopting a Brer Rabbit approach by his “Don’t throw me into the briar patch” routine.

“Because it is the Eagles and after the butt-kicking they gave us up in Philadelphia, I’m scared,” Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM. “It’s that kind of feeling. The respect turns into being afraid of what they can do to you if you have some breakdowns out there, so you can put that scared there if you want to. I think sometimes I know I do my best when I’m scared.”

Jerry Jones scared? We don’t think so.

But at this point of the season Jones is happy to play the underdog card.

He certainly doesn’t want to rev the Eagles up like his defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, did. In the pre-season when all the talk about the Eagles was about how much they had improved by their off-season acquisitions, Ryan called them the “all-hype team” and vowed that the Cowboys would “beat their ass when we play them.”

That call didn’t turn out so well.

The only person on the Cowboys team who should be scared is head coach Jason Garrett who no doubt would join the unemployment line if he loses on Saturday and goes on to blow the division lead and miss the playoffs.

Currently the Cowboys are 8-6 and hold a one-game advantage over the New York Giants, who have a rough outing Saturday when they face the Jets for bragging rights in the Big Apple. The Eagles, meanwhile, are 6-8 but are charged up after their 45-19 rout of the Jets last Sunday.

The Eagles still have a path to the NFC East crown if they win their final two games — they play the Washington Redskins in the season finale Jan. 1 — have the Jets win Saturday and then have the Giants beat the Cowboys on Jan. 1.

So, Saturday’s game is a very big deal.

In the same interview where he said he was “scared”, Jones believes his team could make a lot of noise if it gets into the post-season.

“The stage is set for us to do something special,” Jones said. “We’re a team that could get on a roll. We have a talent level that could have some fun here during the next two games and the playoffs if we can get there.”

A loss against the Eagles would definitely set the Cowboys back on their heels.

They want to end things Saturday.

HOLD THE CHAMPAGNE

With a 9-5 record and a two-game edge over their closest pursuer, it would seem that the Detroit Lions are home and cooled out in their bid to earn a wild-card spot.

The Lions took a giant step towards that goal with their fourth-quarter heroics in last Sunday’s comeback victory over Oakland.

But the Lions still have a rough road to travel beginning Saturday when they play host to the fast-charging San Diego Chargers.

The Chargers are almost unbeatable in December and still harbour playoff hopes of their own so a Detroit loss would hardly come as a shock.

Then in the final week the Lions face Green Bay, so an 0-2 finish and a fall to 9-7 isn’t out of the question.

The team that Detroit should fear the most given that scenario is the Arizona Cardinals who, if they win their final two games — against Cincinnati and Seattle — would also finish 9-7 and knock the Lions out as they hold the tiebreaker because of a better conference record.

Stranger things have happened.

QUICK HITS

The New England Patriots, who are ranked last in overall defence, grew weaker on Tuesday as they placed defensive end Andre Carter on injured reserve with an injured left quadriceps suffered in the opening quarter of Sunday’s victory over the Broncos. This is a major blow for a team that has so few game-changers on defence. Carter was the Patriots sack leader with 10 ... Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib has been placed on injured reserve with a sore right hamstring that sidelined him much of the past three games. Talib started 13 games this season and returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns.

VIKINGS QUITTERS?

The very worst criticism that can be levelled against a team is that it quit and that is what Minnesota Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said occurred in Sunday’s home 45-20 defeat last Sunday at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.

“I would say, you could see some guys hung it up,” Shiancoe said, according to 1500 ESPN. “Not a lot though. Like a very small handful of guys.”

Shiancoe called it “very, very disappointing” and said he will speak privately with who he considers to be offenders.

“No doubt,” Shiancoe said. “You have to somehow influence that. And I will do that. Ain’t no games around here. We’re grown men around here. Can’t see nobody slacking off, especially when you give all your effort. That’s not right, and that’s not going to be accepted.”

Very little has gone right for the Vikings this season beginning with their decision to bring Donovan McNabb in as their starting quarterback.

At 2-12, the Vikings are two more losses away from being the worst team in franchise history. That distinction is currently held by the 1984 team that went 3-13.

On Saturday the Vikings travel to Washington to face the 5-9 Redskins and close out the regular season with a home game against the Chicago Bears.


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