By Peter Gleason
The Eagles (4-9-1) benched Carson Wentz three games ago, and Jalen Hurts won his first career start before another solid showing by the rookie in a 33-26 loss to Arizona pushed the defending NFC East champion to the brink of elimination.
The Cowboys (5-9) have stayed alive by winning consecutive games for the first time in coach Mike McCarthy’s first season, with Andy Dalton improving to 3-4 as the starter after Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury in Week 5.
The only way the winner between the teams that have combined to win the past four division titles can keep that run going is if Washington loses to Carolina. Washington’s start was moved back three hours, making the games almost simultaneous.
“We know that we’ve been in those situations before, but I would prefer to go into a game not knowing,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “I think it does give you a level of concentration and focus that you need going into a football game. Once we tee it up on Sunday, we’re all about the game, we’re into the game, we’re coaching and playing, and we’ll see what happens at the end.”
Both teams have dealt with plenty of injuries, the Cowboys hardest hit on the offensive line while the Eagles have had issues there and in the receiving group. But poor play has been an issue as well, mainly with the Dallas defense and Wentz among other things for the Eagles.
“It’s been an emotional season not only for us, but for everybody with what we’ve been dealing with,” said Dallas linebacker Sean Lee, who was sidelined early in the season by a core muscle injury but could make the first start of his 11th season with Leighton Vander Esch likely out because of a high ankle sprain. “But I’m excited where we’re at, I’m excited to help. I’m proud that I’ve been able to fight back and help.”