This Sunday’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles is significant. Trying to convince people of such isn’t a hard sell. After all, this is the game we’ve all been waiting for. These teams were seen as two of the top teams in the NFC before the season started, and not much has changed now. They have eight of the last ten NFC East division titles between them, with both teams winning four each, and one of them stands a great chance to win another because both Washington and New York have losing records and just dumped some of their top talent at the trade deadline.
So, which is it, Philly or Dallas? Who’s winning this one?
The winner of Sunday’s game will draw first blood and let the football world know that they are the team to beat in the conference. The Cowboys were not successful in beating the other NFC powerhouse team, the San Francisco 49ers, but a win over the Eagles could alter people’s view about just how good this Cowboys team is.
If the Cowboys beat Philadelphia on Sunday, they will sit at 6-2, but still trail the 7-2 Eagles in the standings. However, the Cowboys play a two-win Giants team the following week, while the Eagles sit idle during their bye. That means a Cowboys win on Sunday could put them atop the division by mid-November, and possibly even the No. 1 seed in the NFC depending on what happens to Detroit and Seattle. Something like that is a big deal. Of course, there’s a lot of football left, but the results of Sunday could set the tone for what’s to come.
When the schedule came out, there were some stretches that caught our attention as they posed some potential rough patches for each team. For the Cowboys, it starts the last week of November with Seattle and continues for a five-week period. But for the Eagles, that rough patch starts now. Looking at the schedule, the Eagles’ next six opponents all have at least five wins.
If the Cowboys win on Sunday, they can soon take over the division lead while the Eagles enter their post-bye rough patch. Any additional bumps in the road from Philly might allow the Cowboys to give themselves a little buffer heading into their own rough patch later in the year.
Now, we realize we’re getting ahead of ourselves. One game at a time, right? But it’s still important to look ahead so we’re not taken by surprise when the Cowboys hit their rough patch. If Dallas loses this game, they’ll fall 2.5 games behind the Eagles, meaning they’ll lose the ability to control their own fate in the division. In that situation, for the Cowboys to have any shot at getting back in the divisional race, they’ll need the Eagles to stumble during the tough part of their schedule. And if the Cowboys don’t have themselves in a good spot by Christmas Eve, it could spell trouble since they have a much tougher final three games than the Eagles.
All games are important, but this one obviously carries some additional weight. And when you look at how the schedule plays out, getting a huge road win against the Eagles on Sunday would put the Cowboys in a great spot, and possibly spark a little run that might prove paramount by the time January rolls around.