Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills (+10, 45)
Phillips back on top
The Buffalo Bills fired Wade Phillips as their head coach back in 2000. Now he returns to upstate New York as coach of the unbeaten Dallas Cowboys. Phillips is hoping to lead the Cowboys to their first 5-0 start in 24 years with a win over his former team.
"Well, you know, it's not another game, I guess," Phillips told USA Today when asked about his return to Buffalo. "I have great memories there and all the people there I consider friends."
He also joked around with the media when asked what he thought of the Bills’ decision to fire him after an 8-8 season in 2000. “I believe (New England coach) Bill Belichick was 5-11 that year,” Phillips said, laughing. “They kept him around. I don't know how he did since then.”
The Bills are 1-3 this season and haven’t made the playoffs since Phillips left the club. They have only had one winning season since then.
Bills start with Edwards again
Rookie quarterback Trent Edwards will make the second start of his NFL career Monday night. He came in for the injured J.P. Losman last week and completed 22 of 28 passes for 234 yards with one touchdown in a 17-14 win over the Jets.
"The hardest part is when things don't go right," Edwards told the Dallas Morning News. "I said this after the game that it seemed like for me the most part everything did kind of go our way."
Things are not as likely to go his way against a Dallas defense that has eight sacks and eight interceptions in its last three games. The Bills are already concerned that the Cowboys will blitz more than usual to knock the inexperienced Edwards off his game.
"They are going to try to show [Edwards] some different looks and pressure him,” Bills receiver Lee Evans told the Morning News. “They will make him make some decisions. I definitely expect them to do something like that.”
The Cowboys faced three rookie quarterbacks last season and beat all of them.
Romo’s the real deal
Tony Romo spent three seasons sitting on the Dallas bench before getting his chance last year. He came in for heavy criticism when he lost the final five games of last season, but a 4-0 start this time around has cemented his status as one of the best QBs in the league.
“Anytime you're playing like our quarterback is playing, that's a key factor," Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips told USA Today. "I've seen the quick release and great arm, but it's his presence in practice. I've seen a lot of players who were great in practice, but he carries it over to the game."
Romo has a 10-4 record in 14 regular season starts. He’s thrown for 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and more than 3,800 yards in his career so far. His 112.9 passer rating this year ranks second only to two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady.
"I never look at myself in the third person," Romo told USA Today. "Each step has been good. As a backup, you're trying to get on the field and get better. When it happens it feels normal. That's what you work yourself up for is to be successful."
Romo has thrown for 1,199 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions in four games this season.
Bills defense gets a boost
The Bills are hoping to get two important defensive players back for the clash with Dallas, the team with the best offense in the NFL.
Linebacker Keith Ellison practiced this week for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in preseason. He expects to play on Monday night.
“It felt pretty good playing on it, so tomorrow we’ll see how sore it is,” Ellison told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “I feel real good about it, but that’s up to the coaching staff and what they decide to do with me. Whatever they ask, I’m going to try as hard as I can. I think I’ll be all right to go out there and play.’’
Defensive end Anthony Hargrove is also eligible to start after serving a four-game suspension for substance abuse. He returned to practice this week and is likely to start because of an injury to fellow defensive end Ryan Denney.
“I want to come out here and show them I can play on Monday night,” Hargrove told reporters.
The Bills defense ranks last in the NFL this season, giving up an average of 430.2 yards and 23.2 points per game.