Tonight’s Divisional Round meeting between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles comes with plenty of intrigue for Cowboys fans. If Dallas can pull off the upset tomorrow night against the San Francisco 49ers, they’ll see one of their division rivals in the NFC Championship Game.
Deciding who to root for tonight would seem like a slam dunk to some. For one, the majority of Cowboys fans have much more vitriol for the Eagles than the Giants. Also, a Cowboys-Giants matchup in the next round would take place in Dallas thanks to the Cowboys higher playoff seeding.
Thirdly, and most importantly, nothing that happens tonight changes the feeling that the Eagles are the tougher matchup for the Cowboys. Even if the Giants are able to get to the conference championship, knocking out Philly and the Minnesota Vikings along the way, there will be an overwhelming consensus that Dallas has a better chance against them than the Eagles.
Even if New York wins tonight in a blowout, many will write that off as Philadelphia suffering from bye week rust and QB Jalen Hurts’ lack of playing time over the last month. It won’t override what we’ve seen over the full course of the season, or Dallas’ 11-1 dominance over the Giants since 2017.
So yeah, given all that, rooting for a New York victory tonight seems quite logical. It would set the Cowboys up for their best possible opportunity to finally get back to the Super Bowl. Even if you’re totally on the fence about the Eagles and Giants as the opponent, getting the game in Dallas would be enough of a win.
But over the last week, there’s been a surprising number of fans on social media who still seem to prefer a showdown with the Eagles. They don’t want the easier road, but rather the opportunity to slam the door in the faces of Dallas’ greatest rival. They want the shiniest version of the trophy and all the bragging rights they can get.
Since their 2017 Super Bowl victory, Philly fans have felt overly empowered in this rivalry. They’re quite confident in the opinion that one recent championship outweighs five historically. They’re also now convinced that Jalen Hurts is the best QB in the NFC East based on a similarly limited sample size.
If the Cowboys went into Philadelphia and ended the Eagles’ season next week, it would certainly allow Dallas to retake the momentum in the rivalry. It would easily be the single biggest win by either franchise in the modern history of their series. You have to go back to 1980 for the last time the Cowboys and Eagles met in the NFC Championship.
Even if you just focus on this season, Dallas and Philadelphia split their regular-season games with victories over each other’s backup quarterbacks. Finally getting to see both teams at full strength would make for quite the rubber match.
Of course, none of this talk matters if the Cowboys don’t handle their own business tomorrow night against the 49ers. If Dallas does advance to the conference championship round for the first time since 1995, they will be happy with continuing the season regardless of the next opponent.
But we don’t want to just be happy to be there, nor do we want to fixate on the NFC Championship. If the Cowboys can make this a Super Bowl season, nobody’s looking back on the road taken. If the Giants present the opportunity for a better matchup and home-field advantage, that’s the way to go.
Call it pragmatism if you want. If Eagles fans want to throw shade and say, “You didn’t have to go through us,” simply smile and say, “You didn’t give us a chance.”