Philadelphia Eagles News

Division Title Spices Already Heated Rivalry

Eagles fans dislike everything about the Dallas Cowboys. Dislike might be putting it mildly.

If a Week 17 engagement between the Eagles and the Cowboys to be served up as an appetizer to the playoffs wasn't tasty enough already, the NFC East division crown is at stake. Even more is on the line for the Eagles, who secure the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with a win.

Some players choose to state that this just another game. Some are a little more forthcoming.

"It's not like every other game in our opinion. It's a playoff game and really it started weeks ago, but this is a big one for us," strong safety Quintin Mikell said. "They beat us at home last time. It's our first time going down there to this new stadium, but I think everybody is geared up and ready to go. They're going to be fired up. We're ready to go. It's going to be great football. It's always fun to play Dallas. It's always an exciting game. We're excited. This is going to be big for us."

And for some reason, the Eagles play the Cowboys better the second time around in the intradivisional matchups. Head coach Andy Reid has only lost to the Cowboys twice in the second regular season matchup. In 2007, the Eagles beat the Cowboys in Dallas late in the year despite the fact that the Cowboys were poised for a first-round bye and the Eagles were home for the playoffs. Last year's second regular season meeting? Forty-four to six. The Eagles made a run to the NFC title game. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was selecting his off-season vacation destination.

"It's an exciting time and I think it comes at a great time for us because leading into the playoffs we want to make sure that we are clicking on all cylinders, and what a better stage than to play in Dallas against one of our top rivals and for a lot on the line," said quarterback Donovan McNabb. "We're all excited about this opportunity."

The fact that the bye is on the line for the Eagles is the extra carrot dangling in front of them. A bye certainly wouldn't hurt the Eagles especially because they've done so well with them under Reid. They've never lost in the regular season after a bye week. And they've never lost in the divisional round following a first-round bye.

"The big thing is that first-round bye is huge in the playoffs," cornerback Sheldon Brown said. "Not having to play back-to-back weeks, especially for us because we perform pretty well coming out of the bye. I think that's the most important thing."

The playoff atmosphere that will be present this Sunday at Cowboys Stadium is going to be new for rookies like Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy. It's also going to be new in a sense for quarterback Michael Vick. After two years away from the game, Vick appreciates the chance to play in such a meaningful game.

"It feels good to play in a game that has so much merit to it," Vick said. "I haven't played in a playoff game since the NFC Championship Game (in 2004), a game with such meaning that it determines the future for both teams. I'm excited. Hopefully, I can come in and make a difference."

This is just another exciting chapter in the storied Eagles-Cowboys rivalry.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 9:40 p.m., January 1

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