FRISCO -- Such are the times: Cowboys-ex receiver Dez Bryant is a New Orleans Saint, and it"s Amari Cooper and Golden Tate highlighting the next installment of the Dallas-Philadelphia rivalry Sunday night.
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The receivers were brought into the NFC East dispute before the trade deadline as both teams strain to capitalize on a mediocre division.
"I think it"s anybody"s game, quite frankly," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said this week.
Washington is atop the standings at 5-3 but still plays Philadelphia twice. Those Eagles, yes, the defending world champions, are 4-4, coming off a bye and trying to become the division"s first repeat champion since 2004.
Dallas, at 3-5, will have a harder time convincing itself it"s still in the mix with a third straight loss Sunday. With a win, it"s tied with Philly and holds the tiebreaker. A defeat drops them two games back from the Eagles, ahead of only the lowly New York Giants.
This is the backdrop as Cooper and Tate are introduced to the long-running feud.
"They say it"s a huge rivalry," said Cooper, who had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown in his Cowboys debut in Monday"s loss to Tennessee. "Obviously I don"t know too much about it. But the guys are definitely pumped up. They say it gets crazy over there in Philly when they play the Cowboys."
Tate, who has history with Dallas, couldn"t quite remember this week the name of the stadium where he"ll play his first game as an Eagle (Lincoln Financial Field). But he"s already well-versed in Dallas-Philadelphia hate. He said his social media makes it clear that fans -- he paused to choose his working carefully -- have "passionate dislike" of the Cowboys.
"It"s going to be a great game," Tate told reporters. "I"m happy that my first game gets to be at home against such an intense opponent."
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott calling the game a "must-win" isn"t lip service.
The Cowboys have lost all four road games this season. Now they"re entering a decisive five-game stretch: at Philadelphia, at Atlanta, and at home against Washington, New Orleans and Philly.
A loss Sunday could be the tipping point. And, for those positive thinkers out there, a win could maybe be a turning point. Head coach Jason Garrett and the staff are now likely coaching for their jobs.
The typical stream of trash talk has been coming out of Philly this week, though the Cowboys have been more low-key.
"Of course I don"t like the Cowboys," veteran Eagles left tackle Jason Peters told reporters. "It"s just the arrogance. The organization. "America"s Team." Right now, they"re not winning. Let"s see how many people jump off their bandwagon."
Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford tried hard not to give Eagles fans too much credit.
"They"ve got fans that will throw things at you and dig up information on you. ... It gets kind of crazy out there.
"It gets pretty chippy. ... I"ve been seeing the Eagles for too many time ... and I"m just ready to get after it again. Every single time I"ve played the Eagles I"ve talked a lot of crap and just tried to crack as many heads as I can."
The rivalry now extends to the Cooper and Tate trades: who got a better deal? Dallas gave up its 2019 first-round draft pick to get him here from Oakland. Philadelphia was also interested in Cooper, but for a second-round pick. It got Tate by giving a third-round pick to Detroit.
Cooper is 24 and expected to sign a long-term extension with the Cowboys. Tate is 30 and could end up being an eight-game rental, as his contract ends after this season. Both are wearing No 19 with their new teams.
The Cowboys have been pleased with how quickly Cooper has transitioned since they secured him Oct. 22, especially because they need to move him around the field to find ways to spark the underwhelming offense.
"He never ceases to show the explosiveness and his ability to use hins ... combination of speed and quickness. He"s a tough cover," Dallas offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said.
Tate"s had some memorable moments against the Cowboys in his nine-year career, including getting fined for a blindside block on linebacker Sean Lee when he was with Seattle in 2012.
Much more recently, in Week 4 this season, he caught eight passes on eight targets, totaling 132 yards and touchdowns of 45 and 38 yards in a Detroit loss. Hard to tackle after a catch, Tate taunted Dallas defenders by high-stepping and holding the ball out as he reached the end zone.
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He"s almost a ready-made villain for the latest installment of the rivalry, as both teams claw for higher ground.
"We"ve got to prepare for everything and be on our toes and hopefully not let that happen again," Dallas cornerback Chidobe Awuzie said of Tate. "That"s probably why the Eagles got him, honestly, they know we don"t like him. ... We"ll prepare our best way. It"s no extra or nothing less. ... When you love this game you approach everything like it"s the hardest challenge, like it"s the Super Bowl. We"re going to approach this game like it"s the Super Bowl."
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