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Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Five Players, Five Things to Watch

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COMMENTARY | The Dallas Cowboys - those three words alone are enough to ignite the passions of true followers of the Philadelphia Eagles. You can take this rule of life to the bank: If you love the Eagles, you hate the Cowboys. There is no in-between.

The Eagles have had rivalries with two other National Football Conference East foes, the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, since the early days of the National Football League. The Cowboys have only been around since 1960. The Eagles won 10 of the first 14 meetings between the teams.

But in the late 1960s, the Cowboys emerged as a league power under legendary coach Tom Landry. They blossomed into "America's Team" in the late 1970s with a swagger and a consistent success that were the bane of teams throughout the NFL. As the Eagles emerged in the same division, the rivalry between these teams turned palpable. More often than not, the Cowboys were better. They've won five Super Bowls. The Eagles haven't won any. The Cowboys have been to the big game eight times. The Eagles have gotten there twice.

It got personal. It got testy. When Cowboys' Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin was down and motionless on the Veterans Stadium turf with a neck injury during a 1999 game, Philadelphia fans cheered. He and the Cowboys had torched the Eagles so often, the reaction just came out involuntarily. It speaks to the depth of this rivalry. They simply hate the Cowboys, who lead the overall series with a 61-47 record.

Eagles fans will get to voice their hatred once again Sunday when the Cowboys visit Lincoln Financial Field at 1 p.m., televised by FOX.

The teams are tied atop the NFC East with 3-3 records. The Cowboys have wins over New York Giants, Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams, and losses to the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos. Interestingly, the Eagles have fared the same way against the same teams, with the exception of the Rams, whom they've not played. The Eagles' other victory was last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Five Players to Watch

Nick Foles, Eagles - Foles gets his second straight start at quarterback over Michael Vick and his strained hamstring. He won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors by NFL Media after his performance against Tampa Bay last Sunday. The more starts he gets and the more success he has, the harder it will be for head coach Chip Kelly to return Vick to the starting position.

Tony Romo, Cowboys - The Dallas quarterback is completing 70 percent of his passes and has thrown for 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. His numbers are right there with the best in the league among quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning, who is in a stratosphere of his own. Romo is the absolute focal point of everything Cowboys and is the whipping boy for the failures of recent seasons. Did you know he's only won one playoff game in his 11-year career? You can expect to hear that stat just about every time his name is mentioned.

Nate Allen, Eagles - This safety gets no love on Philadelphia sports talk radio especially and with the media in general. It's true he has had some obvious struggles in the middle of a secondary that should have fire insurance for all it's been torched in recent years. But this year he's second on the team in tackles with 43, has knocked down three passes and has a sack. Maybe Nate has finally figured it out in this his fourth season out of South Florida.

Sean Lee, Cowboys - The fourth-year linebacker out of Penn State has evolved into one of the very best linebackers in the game and is an unquestioned leader on the Dallas defense. Lee has 60 tackles, third best in the league, to go along with a fumble recovery and an interception returned for a touchdown. He'll be especially important this week as fellow defensive stalwart DeMarcus Ware will likely be sidelined with a quadriceps injury.

Zach Ertz, Eagles - The rookie tight end is getting more and more snaps in Kelly's offense and has recorded 10 catches for 163 yards. Talk of replacing veteran Brent Celek at the position may be premature, but he's shown himself to be a reliable target regardless of what quarterback is calling the Eagles' signals.

Five Things to Watch

Eagles fans - It's Cowboys Week. It will be loud and nasty at the Linc. Romo has had some nightmare games in Philadelphia over the years. Nothing would delight a Philadelphia crowd more than to see Tony and the 'boys suffer on the scoreboard Sunday. These people don't want a good game, they want to bury Dallas.

Jerry Jones' face - Somewhere in a luxury box around the Linc, Jones and his entourage will no doubt be located by a FOX camera multiple times. You could turn the sound off and just watch the Cowboys owner's expressions during a given game, and you'll know if his team is breezing along or getting routed, or anywhere in between. No one wears his heart on his sleeve quite like Jerry Jones.

The standings - Should the Eagles come away with a victory, they will have matched 2012's win total in less than half a season. It would mark the first time the Eagles would record three straight victories since winning their final four games in 2011.

Shady's feet - Eagles running back LeSean McCoy leads the NFL in rushing by 99 yards over the Houston Texans' Arian Foster. McCoy is averaging 105 yard rushing per game and needs just 312 more yards to pass Duce Staley for fourth on the Eagles' all-time rushing list.

D-Jax's hands - Wide receiver DeSean Jackson trails New Orleans Saints' tight end Jimmy Graham by only four yards for the lead in NFL receiving yards. Jackson has 34 catches for 17.3 yards per catch. He's also moving up the Eagles' all-time list, just 125 yards behind Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald for fifth in receiving yards.

Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Eagles follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards.

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