Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Boring Eagles-Cowboys rivalry about to get new life

Eliot Shorr-Parks
December 04, 2018 - 8:53 am

As the final seconds ticked off the clock in the Eagles’ win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night, you could almost feel next week’s game already beginning. 

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman welcoming a national audience to AT&T Stadium. The massive jumbotron behind them, with images of players warming up and Michael Irvin telling the crowd to get loud. The FOX intro music for the game of the week playing with white towels waiving in the stands. The pundits listing off the playoff implications for the game that is about to take place before sending it over for kickoff.  

The red-hot Dallas Cowboys taking the field at home. 

The Eagles and their suddenly red-hot offense waiting for them. 

The NFC East title on the line. 

Sure, Dallas week is always supposed to be an exciting time in Philadelphia, but if we are being honest, the rivalry that your parents have loved to tell you about has been stale and boring over the last few seasons. It has felt forced. It hasn't had genuine excitement. 

For as good as the Eagles’ rivalry is supposed to be with Dallas, a harsh reality is that the two teams have not played very many meaningful games over the last few years. They haven’t played a game with real playoff implications since 2013. Prior to that, the two didn’t face off in a meaningful late-season game since 2008 — and that game was a 44-6 blowout. 

Instead, most of the Eagles’ matchups with the Cowboys over the last few seasons have either been early on in the season, with both teams still finding their way, or late in the season with starters resting. The lack of drama around the game has, despite some fans best efforts, has killed the excitement. 

Part of the reason the Eagles and Cowboys haven’t had many exciting matchups recently is that the teams haven’t been good at the same time in years. Over the last 10 seasons, the Eagles and Cowboys have both finished with a winning record in the same season only four times. They haven’t both qualified for the postseason since 2009.

That won't be the case this upcoming Sunday. This game next Sunday for first-place in the NFC East feels different. It feels like the first in what is setting up to be plenty of battles between these two evenly matched, equally exciting teams. 

To say this Eagles’ game in Dallas is huge would be an understatement. The Eagles enter the game at 6-6, one game behind the Cowboys, who sit at 7-6. The division very well could be decided by the game. With a win, the Eagles would move into first place in the NFC East, a spot they haven’t held in week, and control their own destiny going forward. If the Cowboys’ win, they would essentially lock up the NFC East, and send the Eagles back to Philadelphia on a quest to win a Wild Card spot that will be tough to accomplish. Of the 24 combined games these two teams have played this season, 16 have been one-score games. The chance for an exciting game that comes down to the final seconds is high. 

Outside of just the playoff implications, however, this matchup could be the first of many between these two teams. 

As much as Eagles’ fans hate to admit it, the Cowboys have an extremely talented young roster, with plenty of players on both sides of the ball. They have a young trio in Dak Prescott, Ezekiell Elliott and Amari Cooper that have fueled the Cowboys’ playoff run this season. They have two stud linebackers in Jaylon Smith and Leightonn Vander Esch. They have one of the the best pass rushers in the NFL in DeMarcus Lawrence. 

The Eagles also have reason to believe they will remain competitive for years to come. The top reason is quarterback Carson Wentz, who showed on Monday night that he remains on the short list for top-young quarterbacks in the game. With a Super Bowl winning head coach in Doug Pederson, the best tight end in the NFL in Zach Ertz and an elite defensive tackle in Fletcher Cox, the Eagles also have the pieces to remain competitive. 

That is what makes next Sunday’s game so intriguing. It isn’t just the playoff implications. 

It is the feeling that for the first time in a long time, both franchises are pointing up and have young pieces in place to keep it that way. This Sunday could, and should, be the first of many battles between Wentz and Prescott with playoff implications on the line. 

The rivalry that has felt stale for years might about to finally get some new life breathed into it. That is good news not only for Eagles and Cowboys fans, but for the entire NFL. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at [email protected]!

Tags: