In yet another must-win scenario in December, can the Dallas Cowboys build off of last week’s impressive turnaround or will this be the end of an era?
The Dallas Cowboys have been here before. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on your perspective, but at least they are experienced.
Later this afternoon, the Dallas Cowboys head to Philadelphia to face the Eagles in a “win and in” game. Winning guarantees a playoff spot for Dallas while taking the loss gives the Cowboys little to no chance at postseason play.
For the first three seasons under head coach Jason Garrett, the Dallas Cowboys finished every one of them with an 8-8 record. Each season, Dallas had a chance to win the division in the final week of the season by beating a divisional opponent. Each season, the Dallas Cowboys failed to win these games.
Clearly, the third time was not the charm. Will the fourth time finally be the one in which Dallas gets over the hump?
As if this game could not be any more high stakes, there are several other side factors to watch for in this pivotal showdown. Thankfully, these factors do not apply solely to the Dallas Cowboys which puts pressure on their opponent as well.
The first obvious side factor is that of the head coach. It is very clear that if Garrett has any desire to remain the head man in Dallas, winning this game will be paramount. A loss today guarantees next week will be his last with this team.
There are also the factors revolving around the quarterbacks on both teams. Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott will be forever linked. This is inescapable since they were drafted in the same year but teams that have a very strong rivalry.
The draft status and financial situations of these two signal-callers add fuel to the fire. Wentz, the second overall pick in 2016, has already received a huge payday. Prior to the season, Wentz signed a four-year extension worth up to $144 million. Prescott is playing the final year of his deal with no guarantees moving forward.
While it seems obvious that the Dallas Cowboys could not possibly move on from Prescott, the lack of a deal is something that is tangible. There is also the fact that Prescott has severely outperformed Wentz in every measurable aspect.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that today’s game is the biggest in Wentz’s professional career. If Dak continues to dominate the Eagles, as he has in the past, huge questions will continue to haunt Wentz all offseason.
Besides the game being in Philadelphia, many factors, most notably who will and will not be available for each team, seem to fall in favor of the Dallas Cowboys. We already knew the Eagles would be without big names such as receiver Alshon Jeffery, running back Jordan Howard and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill.
You can now add starting left tackle Lane Johnson to that list with defensive end Derek Barnett and receiver Nelson Agholor also questionable to play. Meanwhile, Dallas should be at full strength minus linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
The Cowboys have a four-game winning streak against the Eagles heading into this huge contest. If they can limit the impact that running back Miles Sanders and tight end Zach Ertz have on the game, it should be five straight.
As always, it is the Cowboys however and they have a way of making things much harder than they should be, which is why we are even here in the first place. After a huge blowout of the Rams last week, is it safe to trust this team?