As the Eagles’ gauntlet opens up, beating the Cowboys has never been more important

Bills vs Eagles a.j brown devonta smith
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrating his touchdown with teammate wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) during the first half of an NFL football game against Washington Commanders, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Dallas week is always an important one. Whether it’s in front of a roaring Eagles crowd or venturing into Jerry World, the NFC East’s most heated rivalry always comes with an extra edge. But with a gauntlet of the NFL’s best ahead and a narrow lead in the division, this is simply a must-win game for the Eagles.

Bucking the trend

The importance of beating the Cowboys hasn’t been lost on Nick Sirianni, who sported a ‘Beat Dallas’ shirt not too long ago. However, that has yet to deliver any substantial results. The team has won only one game against the Cowboys since 2020 and is 6-9 against them since 2015. This roster is good enough and deep enough to change that, but it comes at a time of necessity.

Eagles NFC East Odds
Philadelphia Eagles’ DeVonta Smith catches a touchdown pass with Dallas Cowboys’ DaRon Bland defending during the second half of an NFL football game Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

The Cowboys certainly looked the better of the two teams this past Sunday. Much like Philadelphia, Dallas made light work of the L.A Rams, suffocating them defensively and elegantly riding the arm of Dak Prescott to a 23-point victory.

As for Philly, they struggled in a back-and-forth brawl with the Washington Commanders, who are becoming somewhat of a bogey team for this franchise. The plus side is that Jalen Hurts showed shades of that incredible MVP-level campaign from just one year ago and if he can replicate that against the Cowboys, then that defense will be in for a tough night.

The gauntlet ahead

The Eagles have done well to get to this point. At 7-1, they’ve taken care of business in all but one of their games this season, and you could argue that if you switched the Jets and Dolphins scores around, that on paper, 2023 has gone about as well as anyone could’ve asked. They haven’t looked their best and there is plenty of Meat on the Bone, but now is the time to chew it off.

After facing the Cowboys on Sunday, the Eagles will rest up on a Bye before traveling to Kansas City. The Bills are on deck after that while the Niners and a road game in Dallas await.

The combined record of their next four opponents? 21-8.

Cowboys nfc east
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 22: Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks to pass in the second half during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles on December 22, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Why the Eagles NEED to win this game

The Eagles have a 2-game lead in the NFC East as things stand, but the Cowboys have a game-advantage. They’ll face the Giants while the Eagles rest up during their Bye week and if they do beat the Eagles on Sunday, a win over the G-Men would send them atop the NFC East with a less-intimidating schedule. They also have home advantage during their second meeting against Philadelphia which takes place on December 10th.

If the Eagles can win on Sunday in front of their home fans, it would not only serve as a huge morale victory and shake a Dallas team currently riding a 2-game win streak, and a 10-game win streak at home. Sure, this game is on the road, but the more important of the two will be played at AT&T Stadium.

A win would also extend their divisional lead to 3 and help them in the event of a tie-break at the end of the season. It would buy Philadelphia some needed flexibility to potentially lose a game or two from the vaunted slate that lies ahead without much damage being done to their lead at the top of the NFC East.

Everyone wants to beat the Dallas Cowboys. Hating Dallas is just part of Philadelphia’s DNA. But on Sunday night, the Eagles need to beat Dallas.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon