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Eagles @ Cowboys: Most Important Thanksgiving Game Ever?

Are we about to witness the most important Thanksgiving game in the Cowboys' storied history?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview on NFL Network on Wednesday morning, Jerry Jones spoke to the importance of today's clash with the hated Eagles:  "We were discussing that earlier and it may be [the biggest] that I can remember." Certainly, it has all the earmarks of a key contest: division lead at stake; two teams with identically lofty 8-3 records; it's the Eagles.

This got me thinking: casting aside the game's recency bias and emotional aspects - it's the Eagles! - where does this actually rank among the 46 Thanksgiving games the Cowboys have hosted? I looked at all of 'em, comparing the teams records heading into the Thursday tilt, and came up with the following list:

1. 1995 (19-3): 9-2 Dallas vs. 10-1 Kansas City
2. 1998 (18-4): 8-3 Dallas vs. 10-1 Minnesota
3. 1973 (16-4): 7-3 Dallas vs. 9-1 Miami
4. 1976 (17-5): 9-2 Dallas vs. 8-3 St. Louis Cardinals; 1993 (17-5) : 9-3 Dallas vs. 8-2 Miami
6. 2014 (16-6): 8-3 Dallas vs. 8-3 Philadelphia

As this shows, this will mark sixth highest combined win-loss records for a Cowboys Thanksgiving game, and highest for a Thanksgiving game versus a division rival since 1976, when the Cowboys faced the Don Coryell-led Cardinals. The Cowboys won that game 19-14, and went on to win the NFC East before losing, inexplicably, to the Rams in the first round of the playoffs.

That was the fourth time Dallas had faced a division foe on Turkey Day. Since then, they have faced division rivals nine more times. The last time this happened with the division on the line was 1996, when the 7-5 Cowboys hosted the 8-4 Redskins, winning 21-10 en route to a fifth straight NFC East crown. Before that, we have to go back to 1978, against the same Redskins. That year, both teams were 8-4 coming in to the contest. The Cowboys won convincingly, 37-10, giving Washington the second of five consecutive defeats to end the season (thus ushering in the Joe Gibbs era).

Looking at this history, a case can certainly be made that this will be the most important Thanksgiving game of the Jones era. In perusing the above list, it certainly has the most direct NFC playoff implications since the 1998 tilt against the Vikings - the game, you may remember, when Randy Moss exacted his revenge on the Cowboys for passing on him during the previous April's draft.

So buckle up you chin straps, folks. This is a biggun. You know, the kind of game that crusty historians like Ol' Rabble will write about years from now...

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