This week’s Thursday Night Football game is of great interest to Cowboys fans as it will feature two teams that could be a thorn in their side this season. The Philadelphia Eagles have lost two straight, including their most recent loss at home to what many expected to be the easiest NFC North opponent on their schedule. The Green Bay Packers are trending the other direction. After missing the playoffs last year, new head coach Matt LaFleur has his squad off to a 3-0 start, and this includes wins over their toughest division foes - Chicago and Minnesota. The Packers join the Cowboys as two of the four remaining undefeated teams in the NFC.
The Cowboys are trying to be the first NFC East team over the last 15 years to repeat as division champs. To accomplish that, it means they need to stay ahead of the Eagles as they are the only team from the division that causes them any sort of concern. So, clearly we are all Packers fans Thursday night, right?
Hmm, I’m not so sure about that. Would it be better to keep as much space between the Cowboys and the Eagles as possible, or should that team from Green Bay be more of a legit concern. I polled Twitter and the results came up heavily in favor of rooting for an Eagles’ defeat on Thursday night.
Don’t get me wrong. That’s where my vote would go too. There’s no reason to put the cart before the horse and start discounting the Eagles just three weeks into the season. But I don’t think this question is a complete no-brainer. Let’s think about this one a little bit.
A case for rooting for the Packers
First off, the disdain for the Eagles is really high for Cowboys fans, and any day that ends with them losing a football game is a good day. The rivalry between two division foes never goes away.
While the Cowboys are off to a great start, some of us still aren’t ready to lower our guard and buy into them being a great football team just yet. 3-0 is great for now, but what lies ahead when tougher teams roll their way? If you are filled with uncertainty, then winning the division should be in the forefront of your mind. There’s no reason to be greedy. Getting to the playoffs is a perfectly reasonable goal to have and winning the East ensures the team will be playing in January.
Not only does the uncertainty of how good this Cowboys team is make us tap the brakes, but how about the Eagles? Are they really as bad as they’ve played up until this point? Philadelphia has had spurts in each game where they’ve looked terrible, including being outscored 50-23 in the first half this season. The Eagles have fought back, but they just haven’t been able to play well enough down the stretch to pull it out these last two games. Will this erratic play keep up all season, or will the Eagles eventually flip a switch and turn into a better football team? Philadelphia is also dealing with a lot of injuries. Maybe we’ll see a different version once players start healing up.
If you are worried about the Eagles or still have doubts about how good this Cowboys team is, then no lead is safe, and you should most definitely be rooting for the Packers to send Philly to a 1-3 start.
A case for rooting for the Eagles
Maybe you’re not worried about the Eagles. After all, a team that just had a home loss to the Lions who themselves blew a lead and tied a bad Arizona team in Week 1, might have exposed Philadelphia as a team that isn’t as good as many were hyping them to be. They’ve only had one common opponent with Dallas so far, but when you compare the games, this is what you get:
- Eagles beat the Redskins by five in Philadelphia
- Cowboys beat the Redskins by 10 in Washington
Despite how good you thought Dallas and Philadelphia were at the beginning of the season, there is not much mystery about which team is playing better right now. Even the folks over at Bleeding Green Nation begrudgingly have the Eagles 11 spots lower than the Cowboys in their power rankings (Cowboys at no. 7, Eagles at no. 18), which is extremely difficult for them to do considering up until this last Sunday, they still had the Eagles ahead of Dallas. The Cowboys are just better.
The Packers are a different story. They have built themselves a nice defense to go with that Aaron Rodgers fella. The Green Bay defense is allowing an average of less than 12 points a game so far this season, which is second-best in the NFL. And you don’t have to remind Cowboys fans about how unsettling it would be to have to see those guys in the playoffs, considering they have ended the Cowboys season in two of their last three playoff runs. Any postseason that doesn’t have Rodgers and the Packers in it is okay in my book.
Then there’s the Cowboys. They look pretty good. What if they stay pretty good? You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to make me believe they’re one of the top teams in the league. In fact, RJ just enlightened us with the latest odds to win the NFC, and the Cowboys currently hold the second most favorable chances to represent their conference in the Super Bowl.
Odds to win NFC at Week 4 (via @betonline_ag):— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) September 25, 2019
- Rams, 4/1
- Cowboys, 11/2
- Packers, 7/1
- Bears, 8/1
- Saints, 8/1
- Vikings, 12/1
- Eagles, 12/1
- 49ers, 12/1
- Seahawks, 16/1
- Falcons, 20/1
- Lions, 20/1
- Panthers, 33/1
- Giants, 33/1
- Bucs, 50/1
- Cardinals, 125/1
That’s great to see, but there’s those pesky Packers right behind them. Winning the division is great, but Dallas has bigger plans this season. The Cowboys are good enough to contend for a Super Bowl this year, but anything can happen once the playoffs roll around. If they can circumvent the Wild Card round and go straight to a first-round bye, their chances to advance to a Super Bowl increase quite a bit. If they can avoid having to play in Lambeau Field in a cold January, that’s a plus as well.
Maybe we shouldn’t be hoping for the Eagles to dig themselves into a bigger hole? Maybe the better scenario for the Cowboys is to have Green Bay slip a bit, to increase their chances of securing a first-round bye?
If you’re the type that hates Philly so much that you couldn’t root for them even if a victory was the difference in the Cowboys making the playoffs, then this question is not for you. We get it, you hate them. But this is about what best helps the Cowboys.
If we hold Jason Garrett to a higher standard and expect no less than a NFC Championship appearance, then let’s hold ourselves to a higher standard as well and put our rooting interest in what’s going to be most beneficial in helping them go the farthest come playoff time. Whatever opponent we feel is better and poses the biggest threat to the Cowboys is the team we should want to lose on Thursday.
It’s still way early to know what the right answer is, but the team that emerges victorious on Thursday night might end up being a deciding factor where the Cowboys are seeded come playoff time.
Who do you want to win on Thursday night?
This poll is closed
Green Bay Packers