this is the text in the table cell. the background is set to "flowers.jpg"

The table will expand until it's big enough to fit all of the text that's inside of it. Making the page wide will result in the background image tiling.

If we set the size of the table to be as large as the image, the image appears to be contained inside the cell. As long as the type isn't bigger than the size of the table, we get no repeating background image.

The only way to avoid image tiling inside a table cell [that I know of] is to make sure that the image inside the cell is as large as the table is. If the table is any larger than the image, the image will repeat.