Christmas comes early for NFL fans this year. With 24 teams still mathematically alive in the playoff race, Week 15 boasts a bevy of games with major postseason implications. In fact, six games feature teams that are both above .500, and five feature at least one team with a clinching scenario. Let's take a closer look at these six Statement Sunday matchups.
What's at stake?
This game technically means more to the Cowboys. It's hard to imagine them surviving another loss and staying in realistic contention for a wild-card spot or the NFC East crown. The Steelers can afford to lose, knowing that they have an even bigger game next week against the Cincinnati Bengals. But let's be real: The Steelers are hunting championships, not just trying to sneak into the playoffs. This is the type of game a true title contender should win. The Cowboys, a sloppy 7-6, do not have the look of a team ready to go on a run.
Player to watch
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Romo has led the resurgent Cowboys to four wins in their past five games, and is closing in on yet another 4,000-yard season. Romo will look to take advantage of an injury-riddled Steelers defense that is still ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total yards (262.4 per game) and passing yards (169.2 per game) allowed. More ...
Steelers defense: What has happened to the Steelers' pass rush? Pittsburgh was unable to bully a weak and inexperienced San Diego Chargers offensive line last Sunday, and the Bolts pulled off one of the most surprising upsets of the 2012 season. Dallas' offensive line is porous. Pittsburgh needs to play with the killer instinct it was lacking in Week 14. More ...
Matchup to watch
Did you know?
These teams have faced each other in three Super Bowls (X, XIII, XXX). No other teams have faced each other in more than two Super Bowls. ... The Steelers have not allowed a 300-yard passer this season. Tony Romo has surpassed 300 yards seven times this season, and topped 400 twice. ... Ben Roethlisberger is 2-0 in his career vs. Dallas. ... The Steelers have not had a defense rank out of the top five under Mike Tomlin; three times, they have finished first, the position they are in entering Week 15. ... Of the Cowboys' seven wins, just two came against teams with records currently over .500. ... WR Dez Bryant has nine receiving TDs this season, all coming in the second half of games. ... The Cowboys have given up 371 rushing yards and 6.2 yards per carry to opposing backs the last three weeks.
Elliot Harrison's prediction
This is the best uni matchup in pro football. OK, that's not a prediction, but a statement. (My NFL Network colleague Dave Dameshek says Chiefs' whites at Raiders' darks, but that's a conversation for another day.) The Dallas defense is missing multiple starters while having much of its depth playing hurt or just not playing worth a damn. Now Dez Bryant is hurt, meaning Tony Romo will be playing without enough weapons ... at least not enough to topple the league's top-ranked defense. Steelers 20, Cowboys 14. (See predictions for every Week 15 game.)