Why this game is intriguing: The word for this is "rubbernecking." Like when you're driving along the highway, you see a crash and you crane your neck, because you can't avoid checking out the carnage. Welcome to Cowboys-Eagles. Loser gets Sean Payton? Well, we're a long ways from that. But the loser will be 3-6 in a surprisingly downtrodden NFC East, and likely kissing any faint playoffs hopes goodbye. It's fun to watch winning teams, efficient teams, teams that are going places. They can be electric. But I won't be turning away from this, with so many immediate and future outcomes hanging in the balance. On the field, the biggest key for the Eagles will be keeping Cowboys pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware from breezing past a replacement-filled offensive line and spending his day in Michael Vick's lap. The goal, one figures, would be to allow fewer than the seven sacks the Eagles gave up on Monday. As for Dallas, if they can't score against this confused unit, they might never get it together.
With very little having gone right for the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys of late, both teams understand what's at stake Sunday in this crucial NFC East clash.
Philadelphia tries to avoid dropping five straight for the first time under coach Andy Reid when it hosts Dallas, which has lost four of five.
Since winning three of their first four games, the Eagles' season has taken a turn for the worse. Philadelphia (3-5) saw its woes continue Monday in a 28-13 road loss to New Orleans, which sacked Michael Vick seven times thanks to a dismal display from the Eagles' depleted offensive line.
"I've just got to believe in the guys in front of me and do whatever it takes to get the ball out whether I've got to slide or move, break contain," said Vick, who will continue to start under center. "Regardless, I just have to continue to maintain trust in them. That's part of my job as a quarterback and I have to keep believing. Keep believing."
Already without left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce and right guard Danny Watkins, Philadelphia suffered another big blow when Todd Herremans suffered a dislocated bone and ligament damage in his right foot. The right tackle was placed on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday.
Herremans' absence could make things all the more difficult on Philadelphia, which can't afford to slip any further in the standings. The Eagles are in a second-place tie with Dallas, 2 1/2 games behind division-leading New York.
Philadelphia hasn't been handed five straight losses since opening 0-5 in 1998 -- the season before Reid took over.
"We've got to find a way to win a football game," said Vick, who completed just 22 of 41 passes for 272 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Saints. "We miss that feeling of winning and it's been a long time since we've had one, so it's important to come out this week, have a great week of practice, a great week of preparation and get ready to play a good football game."
The Cowboys (3-5) are in a similar situation, knowing another loss Sunday could prove too much to overcome.
"We've dug ourselves a hole and we just got to keep fighting," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "We've got the right guys to do it, we just have to go out there and believe and do it, stop talking about it and be the team that we're supposed to be."
Dallas is coming off Sunday night's 19-13 loss at undefeated Atlanta, giving up a season-high 453 yards of total offense. The Cowboys settled for field goals on their first two drives and scored their only touchdown with 5:21 remaining in the game.
"There have been too many different things," said tight end Jason Witten, who hauled in seven catches to become the team's all-time leader with 754, surpassing Michael Irvin. "(Teams) that are good in this league are consistent. That's not what we've been.
"Each week it's different, and you've got to eliminate it and get it fixed. ... The results have got to come. They've got to come soon."
While Tony Romo threw for 321 yards with a TD, the Cowboys managed just 65 yards on the ground. Dallas is averaging 83.4 rushing yards to rank 29th in the league and could have a hard time running the ball again with DeMarco Murray (sprained foot) missing a fourth consecutive game.
The Cowboys, though, are hoping to have linebacker Dan Connor available after he sat out last week with a neck injury.
"A desperate football team? I wouldn't say that at all," coach Jason Garrett said. "You've heard me use the word urgent a lot around here. We believe in urgency 365 days out of the year. That's where we are right now. We have to be urgent in our preparation ... getting ready for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday."
The Cowboys are looking to avoid a third consecutive loss in this series after dropping both matchups last season by a combined 54-14. Vick threw for 572 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in those games, improving to 3-0 as a starter against Dallas since 2010.