'DALLAS SUCKS! DALLAS SUCKS!' ... Actually, it doesn't

'DALLAS SUCKS! DALLAS SUCKS!' ... Actually, it doesn't

Contrary to what you hear chanted in the parking lot, what you hear echoing through the stands at the Linc, what you see plastered on t-shirts all over town, Dallas doesn’t suck.

The Cowboys are pretty good.

And this is a rare period in Eagles-Cowboys history because the Eagles and Cowboys are both in the midst of extended stretches of success.

Both are coming off back-to-back winning seasons, both are coming off playoff seasons and both look like postseason contenders.

The last time the Eagles and Cowboys both made the playoffs two years in a row was 1995 and 1996. The last time both had a winning record three years in a row was 1979 through 1981.

So this is unusual. Most years, when the Eagles are good the Cowboys aren’t. When the Cowboys are good the Eagles aren’t. From 1985 through 2016, a span of 32 years, there were only eight seasons when both had a winning record.

You never know what’s going to happen, but looking at the Giants and Redskins? It sure looks like the NFC East will once again be a two-team race (although I do think the Redskins had a strong offseason).

The Eagles and Cowboys finished first and second in 2017, with the Eagles obviously going on to win the Super Bowl, and it was Cowboys then Eagles last year.

The last time the Eagles and Cowboys finished first and second in the division three years in a row? That was nearly four decades ago — 1979 through 1981.

Both teams have capable young quarterbacks, both are stocked with weapons on offense, both are disruptive upfront. For the Eagles to get where they want to go — locking up a first-round bye or No. 1 seed — they’re going to have to get through Dallas.

The reality is the Eagles haven’t swept the Cowboys since 2011 and they’re 5-9 against Dallas over the last seven years, although the 2017 finale was a meaningless game with the subs playing. Still, they’ve only won eight of their last 21 games against Dallas going back to 2009.

The Eagles are 1-6 in their last seven games against the Cowboys at the Linc, and the one game they won the Cowboys played Mark Sanchez at quarterback most of the day.

The point of all of this is that the Eagles won’t have a cakewalk to the NFC East title, even though I think there’s a fair chance they go 4-0 against the Redskins and Giants. 

The Cowboys are a formidable rival these days. They’re 4-0 against the Eagles with Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup, and Elliott has averaged 116 yards in those games.

The Eagles are a better team. Prescott is better than a lot of people give him credit for, but I’ll take a healthy Wentz over Prescott any day.

The Cowboys have Amari Cooper and Elliott, but overall the Eagles’ weapons are superior.

Defensively, the Cowboys have a couple studs in Demarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch, but top to bottom I’ll take the Eagles’ D.

And don’t even get me started on Doug Pederson vs. Jason Garrett.

And look at Carson Wentz’s career numbers so far against Dallas: 67 percent, 10 TDs, 1 INT, 100.00 passer rating — third-highest ever against the Cowboys with a minimum of 150 attempts (behind Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees).

But you never know. The NFL is weird. Teams expected to contend for a Super Bowl wind up with five wins. Teams nobody takes seriously win their division.

But looking at it now? The two Eagles-Cowboys games are the season.

Sweep the Cowboys? And the Eagles could very well see their way to a first-round bye. The Eagles have reached the playoffs eight of the nine times since 1970 that they’ve swept the Cowboys and earned a bye four of those years.

Get swept? It’s going to be almost impossible to win the division and have a chance at a bye, which means the road to the Super Bowl becomes very difficult.

The Eagles have been swept by the Cowboys 19 times, and last year was the first time that happened and they still won a playoff game.

The Eagles are in Dallas on Oct. 20, a Sunday night game, and the Cowboys are at the Linc on Dec. 22, a 4:30 p.m. kick.

And for all the talk about roster cuts and the depth chart and the schedule and injuries and everything else we all obsess over on a daily basis, the reality is that the Eagles’ fate this season will depend largely on two things: What happens that October evening in North Texas and what happens that December afternoon in South Philly.

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One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

It’s “easier than ever” to attend the Super Bowl, according to a Stub Hub press release.

It may also be easier than ever to go into debt doing it.

StubHub this week announced a program that allows fans to finance ticket purchases — including Super Bowl tickets — and pay for them over a period of 3, 6 or 12 months.

All at the bargain-basement price of up to 30 percent interest.

Stub Hub, in conjunction with financial firm Affirm, introduced a program this week that allows consumers to use Stub Hub to purchase tickets and during the check-out process elect to finance the purchase through Affirm. 

Although ticket buyers can use Affirm for most Stub Hub purchase, the company is rolling out this program as a way to encourage fans who can’t afford Super Bowl tickets to buy them at potentially exorbitant interest rates.

According to financial web site The Balance, the average credit card interest rate as of December was 21.26 percent.

“Just in time for the Super Bowl, consumers can purchase event tickets now and pay over time,” reads a joint press release from Affirm and Stub Hub. 

The StubHub-Affirm joint press release makes it sound like paying 30 percent interest is a financially sound idea: “With U.S. credit card debt at an all-time high and many consumers looking to kick off the new year with better financial habits, they’re demanding more transparent financial products that align with their interests.”

According to a CBS News story that examined the Stub Hub program, two lower-level end-zone tickets selling on Stub Hub for $15,760 on a 12-month, 30-percent loan would cost the buyer an additional $2,676 in interest.

The story also said that unlike credit cards, there’s no financial benefit for consumers to pay this sort of loan off early. 

Ted Rossman of creditcards.com appeared on CBS MoneyWatch and warned consumers against using this sort of financial plan to pay for tickets makes no financial sense.

"It is a huge risk to make any type of discretionary purchase with something that carries a rate of 10 percent to 30 percent,” Rossman said on the show, according to the CBS News story. "It's risky to buy it now and think you are going to pay it later."

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After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

Earlier this month, Jason Kelce called Brandon Brooks “the best offensive lineman in the NFL.” 

Turns out, ProFootballFocus agrees.

On Thursday, PFF named Brooks the winner of its annual Bruce Matthews Award, given to the best offensive lineman in the NFL. The Eagles were also named the best overall offensive line in the league. 

It’s an honor Brooks deserves after he was egregiously snubbed by voters for the Associated Press All-Pro team earlier this month. It was an absolute joke that Brooks wasn’t even named to the second team. No disrespect to Zack Martin or Marshal Yanda but Brooks was better than both of them this year. 

There’s no doubt that Brooks is the best right guard in the NFL. PFF thinks he’s the best overall OL in the league too. 

Here’s what they said about him:

“Brooks has been a perennially underrated player throughout his NFL career, whether it was playing in Houston or Philadelphia. Aside from a rookie season in which he played just 173 snaps, he has earned overall PFF grades of at least 74.0 every season since. Four of those six seasons before this one saw him top 80.0 overall, but this year he took his game to another level, earning an overall grade of 92.9. For years we have been making the case that he deserves Pro Bowl, and then All-Pro, recognition, and now he deserves to be acknowledged as the best offensive linemen in the game.”

While opinions are split on ProFootballFocus, their evaluations for offensive linemen are incredibly valuable. PFF has been able to give stats to a position that was previously stat-less. No, they don’t necessarily know assignments or the exact designs of plays, but they grade each and every play and that detailed analysis can take some of the human element out of giving these awards. 

When the All-Pro voters made their selections, they picked two guys at right guard in Martin and Yanda who have a longer history of playing at an elite level. PFF doesn’t care about that. They did their game-by-game, play-by-play evaluations and came to the conclusion that no other offensive lineman was better than Brooks this season. 

According to PFF, Brooks gave up just one sack and and 19 pressures on 647 pass snaps. That’s pretty impressive. But it’s even more impressive that Brooks was that dominant eight months after suffering a torn Achilles. 

For the start of next season, Brooks will be coming off a shoulder surgery, but there’s no doubt he should be able to return to his dominant form in 2020. 

The Eagles know what they have in Brooks. They signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a four-year extension during the season that made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL and will keep him in Philadelphia through 2024.

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