NFL Preview - Indianapolis (10-4) at Dallas (10-4)
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Cowboys control their own destiny for an NFC East title and will try to solve some home woes when they host the AFC South- champion Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys are winless in their last three home games and have scored no more than 17 points in each of those contests. They were throttled, 33-10, by Philadelphia on Thanksgiving and rebounded with back-to-back road victories over Chicago and the division-rival Eagles.
Dallas is 7-0 on the road and handed Philadelphia a 38-27 loss Sunday night, as Dez Bryant torched the Eagles for 114 yards and three touchdowns on six receptions to help the Cowboys claim sole possession of first place in the NFC East with a 10-4 mark. Jason Witten was a thorn in the Eagles' side with 69 yards on seven catches.
Witten talked about Dallas' chances of grabbing a postseason spot and possibly a division crown for the first time since 2009.
"We can't really worry about how it all plays out," Witten said. "We have to handle our business and control what we can. At this point in the season, you know what you are playing for and it's just one game at a time."
The Cowboys will close the regular season at Washington on Dec. 28 and has a chance to lock up a postseason berth and the NFC East title with a win today. That's because Philadelphia lost to the Redskins Saturday.
"We're trying to stay together, play together and understand from here on out that these are all big games," Bryant said.
Bryant leads the NFL with 13 receiving scores.
NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray (1,687 yards, 11 TD) suffered a broken left hand against the Eagles and has been limited in practice. Murray's status for Sunday is unknown and he underwent surgery Monday. Joseph Randle is second on the Cowboys with 237 rushing yards and Lance Dunbar has 91.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said it all depends on Murray's conditioning if he will play Sunday, and at this point of the season his running back should be alright to suit up. Most players in this league are battling through bumps and bruises, and Murray is a valuable to piece to the team.
Murray has rushed for 403 yards in three games against AFC foes this season and has recorded five touchdowns in the previous five games against the conference.
Meanwhile, the Colts captured their second straight AFC South title with Sunday's 17-10 win over the Houston Texans.
Colts QB Andrew Luck threw for only 187 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and an interception, while running back Dan Herron posted 60 yards on 11 carries.
"It wasn't pretty, but to be division champs is special, and we're excited about that," said Luck.
Luck is looking forward to the challenge in Dallas.
"It's fun to play teams that are fighting for something. There's a lot of magnitude to this game," Luck said. "That's a good football team."
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who leads the team with 1,345 yards, had 50 yards on four receptions and is dealing with a sore hamstring. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Hilton is day-to-day for an Indianapolis team jockeying for playoff seeding in the AFC.
The Colts, whose streak of at least 20 points in 20 games came to an end, have won four in a row after losing, 42-20, to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Nov. 16. They will wrap up the regular season on the road against the Tennessee Titans Dec. 28.
In milestone news for the Colts, veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne set the franchise record with 209 games played. Wayne was asked what the Colts are seeking to accomplish next.
"If you still have room to move up into the seeding chart, you want to definitely do that. And you still want to finish off the season strong," Wayne said. "We've been blessed to have conquered the division but we still have a couple of games left where you want to win those games. You want to win, so you have that feeling rolling into the playoffs."
Indianapolis is 6-9 all-time against Dallas, including a win in Super Bowl V. The Cowboys have won the last two meetings, including a 38-35 victory in overtime on Dec. 5, 2010. Peyton Manning was the quarterback for the Colts and threw for 365 yards with two TDs and four interceptions.
Jon Kitna was under center for the Cowboys.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Luck leads the NFL in passing yards (4,492), yards per game (320.9) touchdowns (38) and is tied for third with 14 interceptions. The Colts are averaging an NFL-best 310.9 passing yards per game and are third in total offense with 421.4 yards per game.
The Colts will try to keep Dallas' home woes going, but it won't be easy.
"We know what kind of team they have, and what kind of players they have. We've got to go on the road and play a darn good football team," Pagano said.
It will be tough for the Colts to win if Hilton is out. However, Luck has other targets in Dwayne Allen, who has a team-high eight receiving scores, and Coby Fleener. Fleener has hauled in six TD grabs this season.
Dallas is allowing 249.6 passing yards on defense and 359.9 total yards. It shouldn't have a problem with Indy's ground attack, which features Herron and a disappointing Trent Richardson.
If Murray does play, the Colts will have their hands full with him and that cohesive offensive line. The Colts allowed 99 yards to Houston running back Arian Foster last week.
"We're going to face a great runner in DeMarco Murray," Pagano said. "I understand that he has a hand injury and possibly a broken bone; I don't know. I fully expect him to be out there and that's how we'll prepare, but the run defense has been outstanding."
Indianapolis and Dallas are both allowing 110.4 rushing yards per game.
If Romo and the Cowboys have plans on making the postseason, they have to start playing better at home. It seems the pressure of winning in Jerry's world has taken its toll.
Romo was asked about the struggles at home.
"We've played well on the road. We've played some games well at home, too," Romo said. "We just need to do better as a whole and execute better and I look forward to doing that this week."
Romo has won his last four starts against AFC foes and owns 17 TD passes to just two interceptions in his past eight against the conference. He expects AT&T Stadium to be energetic and loud with the possibility of clinching the NFC East.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Cowboys 31, Colts 21
12/21 08:46:56 ET