The Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday in what is going to be a crucial game for control of the NFC East. After suffering a disappointing Week 1 loss against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night in a game that they were favored to win, the Eagles return home to face a familiar — and hated — foe in the Cowboys. While the Cowboys lost star wide receiver Dez Bryant for an unspecified time frame to a broken foot, they still managed a miraculous comeback in their first game against the New York Giants, and come to Philadelphia with a 1-0 record.
While on the surface it appears to be only one game, there are only 16 in the NFL, and this is a hugely important divisional matchup. As of now, the Eagles are favored by five points according to most sports books, which means Vegas believes they are two points better than the Cowboys if they played on a neutral field. While all of the signs point to the Eagles beating the Cowboys, divisional games are always unpredictable. Last year, the Cowboys unofficially knocked the Eagles out of the playoffs when they defeated them in Philadelphia during week 15. The Eagles were also favored to win that game.
If the Eagles lose to the Cowboys on Sunday, an 0-2 start does not end their season, but it is going to make things extremely difficult. According to ESPN, only 12 percent of teams since 1990 that started the season 0-2 have made the playoffs.
3 NFL games Sunday feature two 0-1 teams (DET-MIN, TB-NO, BAL-OAK). Since 1990, 12% of teams to start 0-2 have made the playoffs.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 18, 2015
The odds are even worse for winning the Super Bowl. According to Bleacher Report, only four teams have reached the Super Bowl after starting out 0-2. Surprisingly, three of those teams won, so there is still somewhat of a chance.
In order to beat the Cowboys, the Eagles defense has to improve. Prized free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell was beaten by wide receiver Julio Jones numerous times for huge gains. While Maxwell has to do a better job in coverage, Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis must provide safety help when necessary.
While Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw two interceptions, the Eagles defense rarely forced pressure, and they ended the game with only one sack. The Eagles also failed to establish any kind of running game. Demarco Murray scored two touchdowns, but the team rushed for a total of 63 yards, which is tied for second to last in the NFL.
However they get it done, the Philadelphia Eagles have to come out victorious against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Starting 0-2 would also mean a 0-2 conference record, and a 0-1 division record, both of which dictate tiebreakers for getting into the playoffs.
[Image via Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]