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One Year Later, Picture Changes In Rivalry


It was the first calendar day of 2017 and the Dallas Cowboys were in town, proudly playing the Eagles as the 2016 NFC East champions. Lincoln Financial Field was a strange place to be that day with Dallas, the new king of the division, and many Cowboys fans in the seats.

"It was a sick feeling," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "We knew they would come and play as if they had arrived, and they were playing the next week in the playoffs and I was at home."

"I wasn't happy about it," tight end Brent Celek said, "and I'm glad it's flipped this year."

This time around, Dallas comes to Lincoln Financial Field at 8-7 and out of the playoffs. The Eagles are the champs of the NFC East, a division that has not had consecutive winners since the Eagles of 2001-04.

So, a year later, everything is topsy-turvy.

That's the way the league works, and it's a reminder to never take a thing for granted. The NFL doesn't exactly promise longevity in any regard.

"I think guys pick up on it pretty fast," Celek said. "You see players coming and going all the time and you see that you aren't guaranteed anything. So it's that kind of world here. We get it. It can all change in an instant, so appreciate the position you're in and make the most of it.

"For us, we have a lot of work to do. We are heading to the playoffs and we need to clean things up, especially on offense. So that's our focus."

In a single season, the entire complexion of the division has changed. The Giants went from a playoff team in 2016 to a two-win team a year later. New York heads into the offseason looking for a new general manager and a new head coach and with a quarterback position that could be overhauled for the first time since 2004. Washington was on the cusp of the postseason last year but hasn't been close this season and the Redskins have a major quarterback question as well.


  said. "Once you get into the playoffs, the next goal is to win in the playoffs. And that's where we're at."

That's the lesson for the players and the coaches. The lesson for all of us is to appreciate the moment and not get caught up in looking too far ahead. Nothing is a given. Thirteen-and-two in 2017 means what, exactly, for 2018?

As we've seen, the NFL changes quickly. Tomorrow can wait. The Eagles intend to maximize this moment.

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