IRVING, Texas- It might seem strange. It's hard to fathom, really. But for the next two weeks Cowboy fans everywhere will be rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles.
With just two weeks left in the season the Cowboys, Redskins and Giants are in a three-way tie at the top of the NFC East. All three teams are 8-6. Dallas still has a long way to go and tough challenges ahead against New Orleans and Washington.
But despite beings stuck in the cellar, Philadelphia will have a say in the outcome of the division race. The Eagles last two games are against the Redskins and Giants respectively.
If Dallas can hold up their end of the deal, the Eagles will have a chance to knock off the competition.
This week, the Eagles and Redskins will square off in Washington. The last time that these two teams played back in week 11 the Redskins routed the Eagles 31-6 and Robert Griffin III was nearly perfect in the game with passer rating of 158.3. And even worse, LeSean McCoy played in that game for the Eagles and will likely be unavailable this Sunday.
But that was the first career start for Philadelphia's rookie quarterback, Nick Foles. Since that time Foles has had some very productive starts and raised his confidence. Sunday's game will feature two teams starting a rookie at quarterback and running back.
Assuming Griffin returns from his knee injury for the Redskins, it may be too much to expect Foles to outplay Griffin, but the Eagles rookie running back, Bryce Brown, could play a huge part in counteracting the Redskins deadly running attack of Alfred Morris and Griffin.
Brown struggled mightily last week in a loss to the Bengals. However, he has already proven to be one of the most explosive runners in the NFL. In his first two starts of his career against Pittsburgh and Dallas, Brown combined for 347 yards rushing.
The Washington defense has been banged up all season and has a number of holes in it, but they have been able to counteract that by running the ball well and controlling the time of possession. A steady dose of Brown could be enough for the Eagles to control the clock and take advantage of the Redskins' weaknesses.
The Eagles talented crop of cornerbacks have had a rough season and perhaps, their worst performance of the year was against the Redskins when Griffin completed 14 of 15 passes for four touchdowns and zero interceptions. If they have any pride left in them, they are going to be eager to bring the rookie QB back to earth.
The very next week the Eagles will travel to New York and possibly have a chance to knock the Giants out of the playoffs. In their first meeting the Eagles squeezed out a 19-17 win. However, that was a very different Eagles team that featured Michael Vick at quarterback and LeSean McCoy at running back.
As soon as the offseason hits it will be time for the Eagles to face their most pressing question: what are they going to do about the quarterback position going forward? Will they go back to Vick who was the face of their franchise for the past few years and whom they committed a huge contract to? Or will they attempt to part ways with the aging superstar and start fresh with the young rookie quarterback in Foles?
December 30th against the Giants will be the last chance for the Eagles to find out as much as they can about Foles. He has looked average at times and made rookie mistakes, but he has also shown great accuracy at other times and had ability to spread the ball out and find receivers.
In the last game of the season the Eagles will likely let Foles air it out and try to prove he's their franchise quarterback. And if he plays with confidence then the Eagles just might have a chance to win.
The Giants' most glaring weakness is their secondary. They have the 28th ranked passing defense in the NFL. In Atlanta's blowout win over the Giants last Sunday, Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan was able to post a passer rating of 142.6 on the Giants. Foles will get his opportunities to move the ball on the Giants, it's just a matter of whether or not he can capitalize. This a team that he will have to face twice a year and if he doesn't look impressive against their shaky defense it would seem unwise to invest in him for the long term.
Cowboy fans and Eagle fans have never gotten along very well. But for the next two weeks Cowboy fans will be cheering on a team they have been conditioned to hate. It might make them a little nauseous, but they will know the Eagles can play a big part in putting the Cowboys in the postseason.