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Science Lab: Just win this damn game, Cowboys


FRISCO, TX — By the time the fight gets underway on Sunday, it will have been exactly 35 days, 22 hours and 55 minutes since the clock hit all zeros in what turned out to be a frustrating 28-23 loss by the Dallas Cowboys in a game of inches against the Philadelphia Eagles — the long-awaited rematch finally on tap in Week 14.

Now, I could spend the time doing a dive into the numbers and trends of both teams, as you typically know me to do in the Science Lab, but instead I'm going to simply state the obvious.

Just win this game, Cowboys.

I could educate you on how Jalen Hurts is pressured on 38 percent of his dropbacks (nearly four out of every 10), despite a very capable offensive line, but I won't. I could reveal to you how, of the 3,011 receiving yards the Eagles have gained this season how 1,355 yards are gained after the catch (YAC), and how that means it's paramount to tackle well to literally delete 45 percent of Philly's offensive potential in the air, but I won't.

Oh wait, dammit.

Well, whatever.

Just win this game, Cowboys.

You'll hear all of the right things said by the coaches and players this week, and especially after hyping themselves right out of the contest against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5; and I can appreciate the lessons learned there because Dallas has been quietly all about business ever since, and that's a large reason the narrow five-point loss to the Eagles is the only one the Cowboys have suffered since their trip to Santa Clara.

And, in that span of time, they've also become statistically the best offense in the NFL in several major categories, thrusting Dak Prescott into the MVP conversation as a frontrunner to win the award and cornerback DaRon Bland on a record-setting campaign that's answered the question, loudly, of if he'd be able to fill the massive shoes vacated by an injured Trevon Diggs.

Just win this game, Cowboys.

For so long in Dallas, the team was plagued with what I call the Peanut Butter & Jelly Principle, as in they seemed to routinely have one or the other but never both.

It was either an all-electric offense that rivaled a Tesla strapped to a questionable defense (and in the Rob Ryan era, the literal worst in the league and in team history), or the offense struggled to complement a defense that would stand on business on a weekly basis (remember the Quincy Carter-led offense in 2003 that was like watching someone rub sand in your eyes while that defense allowed only 16.3 points per game that year?).

Of course, there were times when the whole sandwich was well-prepared and served on artisan bread, no less, such as it was in 2016, 2021 and 2022; but each of those potentially special rides ended in the coaster falling off of the rails in the playoffs — divisional round, wild card round and divisional round again, respectively.

This season could avenge those shortcomings, and proving you can defeat one of top-3 teams in the NFC would go a long way to becoming the Ironman that orchestrates the demise of Thanos in February at Allegiant Stadium.

Just win this game, Cowboys.

You've handled business accordingly to give this rematch a chance at carrying a ton of weight, by winning four straight and stretching your home game win streak to 14 games on the heels of yet another 40-point explosion at AT&T Stadium and against arguably the best secondary you've faced thus far in the Seattle Seahawks to force Pete Carroll to .500 on the season.

As a related sidebar, it might've awakened the Seahawks for their rematch with the 49ers this weekend, and if the Seahawks end their three-game slide, it would truly kick the door down for the possibility of the Cowboys not just stealing away the NFC East throne but also the No. 1 seed in the conference.

That would only be true if, say it with me, they defeat the Eagles on Sunday.

Just win this game, Cowboys.

And speaking of secondaries, no, wait, never mind. I said I wouldn't do a deep dive into the numbers in this week's column because, as head coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week before he underwent an emergency appendectomy: "It's the Cowboys versus Eagles. What more is there to say?"

So, sure, I could tell you about how the Eagles' secondary is one of the worst in the league in several categories and below median in others, like their Pass EPA (-2.8) in contrast to that of the Cowboys' (-84.8), or how Philly has allowed 3,341 passing yards and 27 receiving touchdowns (second only to the Washington Commanders) with only six interceptions grabbed (tied for lowest in the league with those very same Commanders) with an allowed passer rating (98.8) that is poor enough to be fourth-worst on Earth.

I won't, though.

Dammit, I did it again. I might need an intervention.

Just win this game, Cowboys.

The Eagles were humbled by the 49ers in much the same way the Cowboys were in Week 5, only worse, because it happened at Lincoln Financial Field.

That means they're looking to quickly get back on track and nothing would serve them better than to (1.) do it against the Cowboys because of the rivalry itself, (2.) knowing it would all but guarantee their path to winning the NFC East and (3.) push the Cowboys out of any rightful discussion for the No. 1 seed while regaining their own momentum toward potentially getting that specific playoff seat.

Expect them to throw the kitchen sink at Dallas on Sunday, looking for a sweep that also comes equipped with bragging rights and an emboldened narrative about the Cowboys being pretenders, and not contenders.

Do it for McCarthy, who'll be coaching only four days after being cut open and having a part of his body removed. Do it for the millions (and millions … *The Rock voice*) of fans who have been subjected to the assbunnery — new word, go with it — of Eagles fans who believe their franchise is suddenly untouchable in the division and the conference prior to their victimization by the 49ers last week.

Do it for yourself, so that you can look in the mirror afterwards and enjoy the affirmation of knowing the better team didn't win in Week 9, but rather the one that had three fewer self-inflicted wounds; and feel free to go full Oppenheimer and decimate them with an effort so explosive it creates a mushroom cloud in Arlington that can be seen from the International Space Station.

You already know how to beat the Eagles, and that's why you nearly did it five weeks ago, and on their field. This time, they have to pull up in your front yard, and that has to mean something.

You're the better team, so prove it. No excuses. No mistakes. No mercy.

Just get it done like you know you can.

_With all due respect, just win this damn game, Cowboys._

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