All season long, the Dallas Cowboys have been searching for a signature win, playing like contenders by blowing out lesser teams, but losing key NFC matchups at the Eagles and 49ers, as well as a letdown game at the Cardinals. The path to the playoffs has been clear for weeks as the Cowboys pile up wins, particularly at home with an active streak of 14 games, but this Sunday night they’ll have a chance to play their way into the top spot in the NFC East should they beat the Eagles for the sixth straight time at AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys are averaging 41 points per game at home in wins over the Jets, Patriots, Commanders, Giants, Rams, and most recently the Seahawks - a Thursday night win that sticks out from the other home wins this season, their first one-score game against a team that matched scores against Dan Quinn’s defense, and put the first real game pressure on Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense.
This type of game may be exactly what the Cowboys needed as they headed into a mini-bye week with extra prep time for an Eagles team that got the best of them 28-23 in Philadelphia in week nine. Other than the distant memory that is the week six Monday night win at the Chargers that showed a bit of the resilience needed versus the Seahawks, the Cowboys loss to the Eagles is their only other one-score contest all season, as they squandered an opportunity to change the outcome from six yards out in the waning seconds.
Jake Ferguson and CeeDee Lamb led the way for the Cowboys in receiving in this close loss, with Lamb going for a season high 191 yards and - at the time - a high in catches with 11, only to be passed last Thursday with 12 for 116 yards and a touchdown against Seattle. With Ferguson catching the game-winning touchdown and continuing to prove himself as a go-to MOF option for Prescott, the Cowboys offense has responded very well from a loss to the Eagles that saw breakdowns in pass protection and penalties ultimately lead to Dallas coming up just short.
The Eagles pass rush was led by Haason Reddick, mainly working against RT Terence Steele and getting up field quickly with his speed to affect Prescott. Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Jalen Carter, and Fletcher Cox all showed up in the stat sheet with at least half a sack as well. Meanwhile, the Cowboys pass rush, more than capable of taking over games in the blink of an eye themselves, was kept at bay with Jalen Hurts getting the ball out of his hands quickly (much like Geno Smith against this Dallas defense), completing 79% of his passes with touchdowns to A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. Micah Parsons did record a sack and a half, lining up all over the defense as usual to create mismatches.
As cliché as it is to boil a heated rivalry game with so much on the line between the Cowboys and Eagles down to which team plays better up front, this is where the matchups to watch will be. This will be the 20th straight season the Cowboys and Eagles have met on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and since Prescott took over as the Cowboys starter the lowest point total between these teams in primetime has been 46 in a 37-9 win for the Carson Wentz-led Eagles in 2017. In more recent memory, the Eagles haven’t even needed Hurts to put up points in any game from AT&T Stadium. Hurts has never made a start against Prescott on Sunday night, battling Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci instead, but when the Eagles were without their starting QB in this game last year they still saw Gardner Minshew duel Prescott in a 40-34 Cowboys win.
The expectation for Mike McCarthy, Dan Quinn, John Fassel, and the entire Cowboys coaching staff should absolutely be another four quarter battle, likely with offensive fireworks throughout. Even with the Cowboys defense having their struggles against the Seahawks in the secondary, their best players put their fingerprints on this win with DaRon Bland logging another interception and Micah Parsons coming unblocked to force a Smith incompletion that ended the game. It was also a Bland interception that set up a Brett Maher field goal against the Eagles last year, putting the Cowboys ahead for good at 37-34.
A full-season of Hurts versus Prescott battling for the NFC East crown has both passers high in league MVP odds, and while the play-caller and scheme has changed around Prescott to unlock a new height to his game, his dominance over division foes has always been a calling card. Prescott is 8-4 in his career vs. the Eagles, with a three-game win streak being snapped earlier this year, and has only lost one home game (the previously mentioned Wentz win) to Philadelphia. For as much as this game will be hyped up until the last possible second when the theme song blares on a potentially record-breaking number of televisions, there’s reasons around The Star for the Cowboys to treat this as just another game they’re prepared for - looking to put the Eagles’ own calm, confident, and expect-to-be-here demeanor to the test after they faltered at home 42-19 to the 49ers last Sunday.
With the talent level of these rosters as high as ever, it feels near-impossible or even frivolous to pick any under-the-radar players that may prove the unlikely hero, but with the Eagles as reigning NFC champions now fighting to hold off a Cowboys team looking for their all-important tenth win, this is every bit the game fans deserve this Sunday night. After 13 weeks of Cowboys fans asking how much they can believe in this current team, it won’t be time to write off Dallas should they lose another close game to their rivals, but with Jerry Jones and the front office already having to spin one loss to Philadelphia as a reason for this team to rally closer together (and being undefeated since), it goes without saying a revenge win on home turf is the preferred option as the calendar turns to December football.