Eagles end the season with another rivalry clash against Dallas, but this time the tables have turned


One year ago this week, Tony Romo bid farewell to the NFL in a way only a Dallas Cowboys quarterback could do. Tossing one last touchdown pass against his biter rivals. It was the Eagles who came out on top that day however. The Cowboys came into the matchup with little to play for. First round bye’s secured, Dallas left Philadelphia healthy with the intent of dominating the postseason. This time around, it will be the Eagles pushing for that goal.

It’s crazy the difference a year can make. The Eagles and Cowboys have completely flipped sides, from quarterback debates to injuries and overall records, it’s Philadelphia’s time in the sun. Dallas comes into this matchup with nothing left on the table except a grudge match against a Philadelphia team who may well be resting their starters…but that does not mean that Pederson, or the Eagles are taking this lightly.

What has been overlooked this week, amidst the Sidney Jones storm and the play of Nick Foles, the form of this team has flown under the Radar. It was sloppy, but the Eagles pulled out a huge win over the Oakland Raiders. One more to round out the season and the Eagles will hit a new milestone in franchise history, amassing their most wins in a single season ever.

“Obviously something that this team, that’s a milestone for this team for 2017 to reach.” Doug Pederson told reporters earlier this week. “They’d go down in the record books as being that, a great team in Eagles history, obviously, regular season.

And then having the opportunity to be undefeated at home and things like that. Those are prideful things, those are things we talk about.

Playoff teams year in and year out you look at the teams that are successful and that are always in the post-season, they usually take care of busy at home. We get another opportunity Sunday. That’s something that I’ve mentioned. It’s not the motivating factor obviously, but it’s something we talk about, yeah.”

There’s much more on the line than simply resting starters for the Eagles. By contrast, the Cowboys only sidelined three starters in the showdown one year ago before rotating players in and out. Just because the game is in week 17, it does not mean it’s substance less. Just because the Eagles have already ticked all of the major playoff boxes this year, it doesn’t mean they don’t want one big psychological edge over their must hated opponent.

“They’re all meaningful for us.” Jim Schwartz explained. “Every time they put it down, it’s our job to go play. I think our message to the players — I know other people are taking a step ahead. The Dallas Cowboys give us enough to challenge us and to keep our focus on this week, and I’ve liked our ability to do that over the course of the season. Our players do a good job of staying in the moment, in that week, and not getting ahead of ourselves, not looking forward or not looking past certain challenges or bye weeks or anything else. We need to continue doing that as we go forward. Let’s concentrate this week on the Dallas Cowboys, and then after that let’s let all the — we’ll take that next challenge after that one comes, but I like our personality that way.”

Every mantra that the Eagles have laid down this season will be tested. Sidney Jones and Nate Sudfeld could well be the ‘next guys up’. Resiliency will be tested in a very different fashion as the Cowboys aim to stick a thorn in the side of this team on the horizon as Dallas aim to punish a team who are coming off of a poor offensive showing against Oakland. The strength and depth in the trenches is more valuable than ever with Brandon Graham sidelined and offensive line rotations shaking up the afternoon.

Make no mistake. The Eagles are chasing more than just rest and fatigue here. More than statistics. Even more than their record-breaking 14th win. They’re chasing greatness. Something that Doug Pederson has instilled deep within his team’s DNA since the moment he was hired.


Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports