Cowboys and Eagles: it’s one of the most notorious rivalries in the NFL. While Washington and New York are both natural rivals as well, with plenty of memorable games between them, there’s just something different about Philly. The intensity between the fans is almost unmatched, likely due to the volatile combination of Cowboys fans’ braggadocious “Five rings/everything’s bigger in Texas” attitude and the Eagles fans’ penchant for hating anybody, even Santa Claus.
They say familiarity breeds contempt, and that explains the palpable dislike between these two teams: at 120 total games, the Eagles are tied with Washington for most games played against the Cowboys. The rivalry has produced some truly memorable moments, like when Buddy Ryan put a bounty on Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas, or Jason Witten’s helmet-less run down the field that changed the rulebook. And all of these heated matchups have translated into must watch TV, as no two teams have faced each other more often on Sunday Night Football.
While it won’t be Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth this time around, it’ll still be prime time viewing. Fans will get to watch the Monday Night Football crew, or catch Peyton and Eli Manning dissecting the next installment in this storied rivalry. It will also serve as the Cowboys’ home opener, a game in which the Cowboys have lost exactly twice in the last decade, and the most recent one being Dak Prescott’s NFL debut in 2016.
The rivalry between these two teams has perhaps been at its most interesting since that season. The Eagles were ready to fawn over their highly drafted quarterback, Carson Wentz, while Dallas was forced to start their fourth-round developmental quarterback because Tony Romo fractured a vertebra in his back and Kellen Moore broke his leg.
It quickly became clear that both of these quarterbacks were going to be franchise guys for their respective teams, and all eyes were on their first matchup against each other in Week 8. While Prescott lost to the Giants in the season opener, his play rapidly improved and the Cowboys rattled off five consecutive wins to sit at 5-1 as they prepared to host Wentz and the Eagles. Philadelphia, meanwhile, jumped out to a 3-0 start and entered the contest with a 4-2 record. The game turned out to be everything it was billed as, ending in a thrilling overtime victory for Dallas.
But the Prescott-Wentz rivalry struggled to match that exciting first bout. Injuries became a recurring issue for Wentz, and his performance took a nosedive even when healthy. Meanwhile, Prescott endured a rough stretch of games between the last half of the 2017 season (when Ezekiel Elliott was suspended) and the first half of the 2018 season (remember Deonte Thompson?), but rebounded strongly once Amari Cooper showed up and has been playing at an extremely high level ever since.
Now, Wentz is Indianapolis and expected to miss his first game as a Colt after injuring both of his ankles. For the Eagles, it’s Jalen Hurts’ team now. Or, better put, it’s his team for now. After starting the last four games of the year in 2020, Hurts beat out Joe Flacco for the starting job this year, although Philadelphia hasn’t come anywhere close to declaring him the quarterback of the future. So far, he’s 1-1 with rookie head coach Nick Sirianni, but this is their first division test, and it’s coming against the favorite to win the NFC East.
Maybe the Prescott-Hurts rivalry can become what the Prescott-Wentz rivalry was supposed to be. Only time will tell. But with both teams sitting at 1-1, this game will be important in the here and now. As for the larger rivalry between the Cowboys and Eagles, Dallas holds a 67-53 lead all time. They’ve also faced Philly four times in the playoffs and won three of those games. As for Mike McCarthy’s tenure, his team got beat badly by the Eagles in their first matchup last year, but that featured Ben DiNucci in his first and, so far, only start. The Cowboys got the win the second time around, which featured Hurts as the starter.
Regardless of where each team is in their growth stages, this is a rivalry that usually produces close games. Given how close the Cowboys’ last two games have been, they’d clearly prefer to change that trend. And on Monday night, they’ll have that opportunity while also writing the next chapter of a truly entertaining rivalry.
We ran a Madden simulation on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel to see how the game thinks this contest is going to go.
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