Cowboys-Eagles: Monday Night Slugfest Reveals Top Contenders

Patrick WallCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2008

You heard it here—the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles are the two best teams in the National Football Conference.

The NFC East has regained its title as the toughest division in football. If things continue, the division is likely to produce three playoff teams again this year.

Statistically, Dallas and Philly have two of the top three offenses in the league. The Eagles have scored a total of 75 points in two games, with the Cowboys close behind at 69 points.

Meanwhile, the Eagles lead the league in passing yards per game, as well as rushing defense.

And Dallas? Well, wide receiver Terrell Owens is second all-time in touchdown receptions. No. 1 is some guy named Jerry Rice.

So yeah, these two teams are pretty darn good.

In their Week One match, the Cowboys exposed the now-suspect Cleveland Browns in a 28-10 dismantling on the road. The Eagles tore apart the pitiful St. Louis Rams at home by a score of 38-3 before letting their scrubs finish out the game.

These lopsided opening-day games were the perfect backdrop for a Week Two Monday Night Football meeting between Dallas and Philadelphia.

For the first time in a while, the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry was exciting for more reasons than the drama between Owens and Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. Pundits believed the game would tell which team was for real, as opposed to being the beneficiary of an easy opening day game.

As it turns out, the answer is "both."

The Eagles' offense started slow, but tacked on 30 first-half points. Even the defense chipped in, recovering a Tony Romo fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

Dallas' scoring machine was once again prolific, as Romo threw for 312 yards and three scores.

Both teams also benefited from contributions from their highly-publicized rookie class. Dallas RB Felix Jones returned a kickoff 98 yards in the first quarter. He now leads all rookie kick returners with 267 yards in two games.

The Eagles' rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson caught six passes for 110 yards. Jackson would have scored on a 60-yard pass, but he dropped the ball in celebration before crossing the goal line.

Jackson also became the first rookie since 1940 to have two consecutive 100-yard receiving games. He leads all rookies with 216 yards.

The game featured seven lead changes, and was the second-highest scoring Monday Night Football game in history. Appropriately, the game garnered record TV audiences.

Dallas now heads to Green Bay to face the Aaron Rodgers-led Pack, while Philly faces cross-state rival Pittsburgh.

Despite the loss, the Philly faithful have reason to be optimistic. McNabb is now two years removed from his devastating knee injury and looks like the Pro Bowl-caliber player of old. Although top receivers Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown have been out due to injury, the depth at wide receiver has proven more than capable.

In Dallas, fans are thinking championship. Last year's team was a disappointment, and this year's 'Boys are thinking championship or bust.

Both teams have seen their share of hardships recently. The Cowboys, even with Tony Romo at the helm, have not won a playoff game since the 1996 season.

Donovan McNabb has not seen the postseason since the Eagles' Super Bowl loss in 2004, when Owens made a miracle comeback in time to play in the big game.

Both teams know that if they want to win it all, they must focus on now. It's a long season, and both teams' futures look bright.

It's going to be an exciting season for two bitter foes that want to prove that this year, after years of heartbreak, they have what it takes to be Super.