It is finally Friday, and with no postseason baseball most sports fans across the country are focusing solely on football this weekend. There are some decent games in college this week, including an important one down in Tuscaloosa. There are a handful of exciting matchups in the NFL, too, scattered across the dial. But the matchup that I believe is the best game of THIS weekend is the NFC East showdown in the city of Brotherly Love between the hated Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.
About three weeks ago this matchup did not look like it was going to be much of anything. The Eagles just laid a big time egg in Oakland, and Dallas was on a bye week preparing for the then 4-1 Atlanta Falcons. But Philly got two division wins against the Redskins and the Giants, while the Cowboys scored an impressive win over Atlanta and followed it up with a relatively easy victory over the Seahawks. Now both teams enter with identical 5-2 records with first place in the NFC East on the line.
One of the biggest surprises of the season for me has been the emergence of Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin. I always envisioned him as a third receiver at best, but he has risen up to be the Cowboys best receiver and if he keeps it up he is got a shot at making the Pro Bowl. He has 482 yards receiving with five touchdowns in his last three games. These stats represent what Roy Williams was supposed to do, but he continues to have difficulty getting on the same page with quarterback Tony Romo. Nonetheless, the Cowboys are playing well on offense right now, but it will be a challenge going up against an Eagles defense that has given up more than 17 points once all season (in a week two loss to the New Orleans Saints).
I really like the Eagles young group of receivers. Big play receiver (and sometimes rusher) DeSean Jackson has teamed with rookie Jeremy Maclin to form one of the more exciting receiving duos in the league. Both are capable of hauling in the long ball, and these guys have really loosened the team up so much that Jackson performed a chest-bump with a usually subdued Andy Reid. Jackson now has six touchdowns of fifty yards or more, which is three short of breaking the NFL single-season record. That is also big for fantasy players that have Mr. Jackson on their teams (Loyal Homer just happens to be one of those players!) Another guy for the Eagles offense worth paying attention to is Brent Celek. He is probably the least known productive tight end in the league. Did you know that Celek has 37 catches?
The fact that this matchup is the NBC Sunday night game of the week just adds to the intensity. These teams really do not like each other and I do not believe Eagles fans like Cowboys fans that much either. It is sure to be an exciting game, and it is one I will definitely be watching Sunday night in prime time.