FRISCO, Texas –Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz catches Dak Prescott highlights on film as much as he would watching SportsCenter.
With seven common opponents already this season, Wentz has seen Prescott at work often while game-planning for another team's defense.
"I see him on film here and there and I'm impressed. He's done well," Wentz said Wednesday via conference call. "I've got a lot of respect for what he's done, and I know him personally, I know he's a great dude. I think it's cool to go up against him hopefully for a long time."
It sure looks like the start of a decade-long division rivalry between two of the NFL's best young quarterbacks.
Technically, Sunday's primetime matchup between the Cowboys (5-4) and Eagles (8-1) at AT&T Stadium can be billed as Prescott-Wentz: Round 3, but it's only second meeting between them with something at stake. Prescott started last year's season finale at Philadelphia but was rested after two series because the Cowboys had already clinched playoff homefield advantage.
The Eagles were out of the playoff race by then. This year, they have the NFL's best record, and Wentz is on the short list for league MVP as leader of the second-ranked scoring offense (31.4 points per game).
Wentz ranks first in passing touchdowns (23) and third in passer rating (104.1). He has also reduced his interception total: 14 last season to 5 through nine games this season.
Prescott is impressed with the 2016 second overall draft pick, too.
"When you're playing as hot as he is and hot as the Eagles are, you hear the stats and all that stuff is kind of hard not to see," Prescott said. "He's a friend. We created our relationship through the Senior Bowl, through the Combine, through all off that.
"Just in doing that, I saw a guy who paid attention to the details, who was really talented and I have the most respect for him going through the whole process."
The Cowboys actually coached Wentz on the North squad during 2016 Senior Bowl week. Prescott, the South quarterback, won game MVP, and the rest is history. The Eagles traded up to draft Wentz at No. 2. The Cowboys took running back Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4, and Prescott was the steal of the draft in the fourth round.
The Cowboys went 13-3 in Prescott's rookie season. This year, with Elliott suspended for five more games, they're fighting to stay in the NFC playoff race and catch up to the Eagles in the NFC East.
Numbers and records aside, Prescott is a better quarterback now. With a full offseason as the starting quarterback, he's more comfortable making pre-snap reads and after-snap progressions.
He showed toughness in last Sunday's 27-7 loss to the Falcons – continuing to try to rally the offense amid a career-high eight sacks.
"He just proves his resiliency and his competitive nature and his never-give-up attitude and approach," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "And he's showed as much of his leadership qualities, how he hangs in there and plays regardless of the situation, than he does from all the other stuff we talk about. But that's just who he is. That doesn't surprise me or it's not something I wouldn't expect. It's just really unique.
"But that's what a quarterback in this league has to do. You've got to sustain some tough days once in a while and then bounce back and get ready for the next one and shrug it off and put it as a learning experience and move forward."
Wentz has done the same in Philadelphia, enduring a 7-9 rookie season and now leading a dynamic team on a seven-game win streak entering Sunday night's showdown.[embeddedad0]
The two quarterbacks never truly line up across from each other, but it's still the most exciting matchup of the week.
"I look forward to this Sunday and hopefully 10 years or more down the road of great quarterback play in this game and us going against each other for numerous years," Prescott said. "Excited for that."