I'm big on the "desperation" theory in the NFL -- heck, when you're 3-5 and all of your other theories have fallen flat, you reach for anything, I know -- and the Eagles are as desperate as they have ever been at this point in the season.
Dallas comes in at 3-5, true enough, but the Cowboys are in a slightly different situation. For one, they are on the road. Two, their picture of stability at head coach is not as longstanding as the one here and their newspapers aren't speculating about the future nearly as intensely as are the ones in Philadelphia.
The Eagles can't lose today. They just can't. They're coming off an embarrassing loss on national television and they are going to play in front of 68,000 fans who are frustrated and who haven't experienced a win since September 30.
The mood at Lincoln Financial Field is going to be energetic, to say the least. (A note to the fans: Bring your "A" game. You always do, but this team really, really needs a boost today). Nobody can tolerate the thoughts of the hated Cowboys coming to Lincoln Financial Field and emerging with a victory. It's just not in the script.
We've gone with a lot of "If-there-was-ever-a-time-for-the-Eagles-to-play-their-best-game" themes for the last few weeks. Coming out of the bye week was the first time. Then prior to the Monday night game. And now with the NFC East rivals coming to town.
So are the Eagles ever going to, as the players said on the field prior to the game on Monday night, "rise up?"
Now is the moment. If the Eagles want to prove that they really, truly want it and that they are desperate to turn the season around, now is the time. Now is honestly the time, mathematically, to start a winning streak. Because you know what 3-6 means.
This is a message from me, a few hours before kickoff, and I'm excited. It's Dallas, baby! Nobody dislikes the Cowboys more. Nobody wants a win more. I've had more than a dozen people ask me about today and how I think things are going to go, and I say the same thing each time: "The Eagles need to get it going right away. How much different would this team be with a 14-0 lead in the first quarter?"
There is no late-breaking news to report. Dallas comes in minus some key players and of course the Eagles are hurting along the offensive line. I would imagine the offensive scheme will include a lot of maximum-protection calls and an emphasis on the running game, but do the Eagles think that is a sign of surrender?
I hope not. The Eagles have to play smart, physical, efficient football on offense to win this one. And they have to stop the running game and find a way to make Tony Romo feel the heat in the pocket on defense to have a chance. Todd Bowles was encouraged by a defense that allowed just 21 points, including only one touchdown drive in the second half, against a potent Saints defense on Monday night.
There really are no secrets. The Eagles have to win. They have no other choice. Let's hope the players realize that and put forth their most urgent, focused effort and win a critical NFC East game against a team that would be in dire straits with a loss.
It's gorgeous here at Lincoln Financial Field. It's going to be a great late afternoon and early evening to enjoy a terrific football rivalry. A jolt of energy and a touchdown or two early can make all the difference for the Eagles in this game and maybe beyond.