Jim Henderson's Black & Gold Breakdown: Saints vs. Cowboys

On Sunday the Cowboys seek to control their own destiny.  The Saints seek to continue avoiding theirs.

Dallas wins the NFC East with a victory over the Saints and the Cowboys' finale at Washington in week 17.  The Saints must not only win out against the Cowboys and Panthers, they need eight other results over the last two weeks elsewhere to go their way.  Their odds of that are longer than Santa's gift list.

In winning their last three, the Cowboys have welcomed the return to form of previously injured running back Demarco Murray, the decision-making and late-game heroics of Tony Romo, and the expanding confidence built by overcoming the loss of regulars to injury and accident.

Murray's had a rushing touchdown in each game of the winning streak after missing six games with a sprained left foot.

Romo has thrown for 736 yards, six touchdowns, and just a single interception during the winning streak.  Once prone to the big mistake at crunch time, his reliability with the game on the line has allowed the Cowboys to over-come fourth quarter deficits in all three victories.

A patchwork defense has relied even more heavily on veteran outside linebackers Anthony Spencer and Demarcus Ware, who have two-thirds of the team's sack total between them.

But a return to his home state of Texas has brought out the best in drew Brees in the series.  The Saints have won the last three road matchups in it.  In the last two that he's been a part of, Brees has thrown for 736 yards, six touchdowns, and a single interception.

The Cowboys want to finish strong heading into the post-season.  The Saints want to finish strong as they -- in all likelihood -- head into the off-season.