Rivalry Week: Eagles vs Cowboys

Eagles star right tackle Lane Johnson spoke Monday on his personal motivation for this Sunday’s upcoming showdown with the Cowboys.

The 27-year-old Pro Bowl hopeful mentioned his Texas upbringing, followed by a few fighting words directed at particular members of his family.

In a facetious manner of course.

All jokes aside, this long-lived rivalry has the makings of another testy Sunday night battle with serious postseason implications on the line.

The Cowboys look as if they have some kinks to work out this week, following a retching 27-7 loss Sunday afternoon against the Falcons. The suspension of Ezekiel Elliott, along with the absence of starting left tackle Tyron Smith evidently was too much to overcome as Dak Prescott was sacked eight times with little to no ground game or yardage through the air.

While the team struggled with lack of depth offensively, the defensive side dealt with an almost immediate blow to its linebacker core when Sean Lee exited the game with a hamstring injury.

Lee, who is likely to miss at least three weeks for recovery, will clearly not be available against a vigorous Eagle offensive attack on Sunday. Regarding Tyron Smith, the Cowboys are certain that they will permit him to take the field if able.

Dez Bryant is also dealing with a minor ankle injury that will limit him in practice throughout the week, but it shouldn’t play much of a significant factor come game time.

The Eagles made improvements to their roster this week with the additions of LB Daniel Ellerbe and OT Will Beatty. Both of which help mitigate the season-ending losses of Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks.

The dominant win over the Broncos a couple of weeks ago is now ancient history, at least for Philadelphia.

This team is aiming toward something much more special this year, rather than just a handful of eye gazing regular season performances. It’s truly hard to remember when the Eagles had this much fire power coming off of a bye week.

Arguably last season, but they didn’t have near the talent and depth that they currently hold, and a lot of other issues could be brought up as well.

Coming off of the recent bye week, it appears that the Eagle players are ready to get back at it, especially against another loathsome division rival. Obviously the focus and willingness of being a title contender exists within this organization like we possibly have only seen one or two times before.

The key to winning this Sunday for either team is going to come down to who brings the most tenacity into the building first. The game could honestly be decided within the first few minutes of play.

Regardless of what their record has been in recent years, Dallas has always made it known that they don’t ever give games away on their own turf. They are an especially difficult team to beat when you trail early, and in this case, when they are in a must-win situation.

The Eagles, like it or not, find themselves in a very similar situation.

If there is one message the Eagles should hear constantly this week, it is this…

Do not let up on this team or they could dismantle this season in a heartbeat. Save the season and put them away hard.

The second half of the season’s opponents completely overshadow the difficulty of the first. Although the sweep against Washington this year put smiles on faces, there is still a mere possibility of a division melee with the Cowboys in the final game of the regular season. That is something that just cannot happen, especially with a ‘Zeke return coming around that time.

Carson Wentz will face another test, if not the biggest during his MVP caliber year, as he goes on the road in a game that he is favored to win. Not to mention, the first real head-to-head battle with his position rival Dak Prescott since last year. Wentz’ MVP odds could skyrocket if he takes a 9-1 record back home to Philly, and let Cowboys fans speculate who’s the better quarterback of the two.

(Seriously, the “Wentz or Dak” thing is the most annoying thing since the “LeBron or Melo.” Or better yet, the “Lavar or MJ.”)

Enough already.

However, this season Eagles fans will be more than happy to give the answer.

As the Eagles sit atop of the league, the realization should hit that this game and rivalry is no joke. This is one that could very well turn out to be the most pivotal game of the season for both teams.

Derek Hryn

B.S. Communication/Journalism Clarion University Alum and lifelong Philadelphia sports enthusiast.

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