The Philadelphia Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys in a Sunday Night Football battle that could very well end up determining the NFC East race in the 2011 season.
And if they lose, it could pretty much put an end to the season for the Eagles.
The Eagles, who are 2-4 coming out of their bye week, are well-rested after a season-saving 20-13 victory over the Washington Redskins.
They will have two key starters returning to the field for the first time since week four: left tackle Jason Peters, who has been out with a hamstring injury, and defensive end Trent Cole, who injured his calf.
Peters will help solidify an offensive line that has been improving with each passing week. His return will send Winston Justice back to the bench, while Todd Herremans will move back to right tackle.
Cole will replace Juqua Parker on the right side of the line. This season, Cole rates as the third best defensive end in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, despite missing two games. His return will also help Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, who collected six sacks in the season’s first four games but only one in the last two weeks without Cole.
The Eagles will have their hands full against the 3-3 Dallas Cowboys, who have also played below expectations this season.
The Cowboys have suffered a trio of extremely disappointing losses so far this season, including last second losses to the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, and a 24-point blown lead to the Detroit Lions.
But they just blew out the St. Louis Rams behind a 253-yard rushing performance from rookie running back DeMarco Murray. Yeah, it came against the Rams, but a win is a win when you’re struggling, and the Cowboys needed that victory.
The winner of the Eagles-Cowboys game will lead the other in the division race. The Giants (4-2) play the Miami Dolphins, so they’ll likely be 5-2. And the Redskins (3-3) play the Bills (4-2) in a game that could put a huge damper on the Skins’ postseason chances if they lose.
Regardless, the Eagles cannot lose on Sunday night. Until they dig themselves out of the hole that they got in with their 1-4 start, every game is a must-win for the Eagles.