NFL rivalries are heating up as the 2019 season nears its midpoint and teams look toward the postseason and a shot at Super Bowl glory.
But teams still have a long road ahead, and it’s not getting any easier with tight playoff races across both conferences.
Here are three things to watch for this NFL Sunday:
1. Eagles and Cowboys clash for NFC East lead
The rivalry between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys runs deep.
The games of the 1980s got so violent that then-Eagles coach Buddy Ryan was accused of placing a bounty on the heads of Cowboy players. There’s nothing that intense this year, but Sporting News ranked the clash between the NFC East rivals as the best in the game, even ahead of the combative Bears-Packers.
One might not think the contest between two 3-3 squads would be that exciting, but the division lead is on the line. The Eagles have suffered an inconsistent season, while the Cowboys are reeling after three straight losses that followed three opening wins. With key players missing on offense, it’s been a tough few games for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, who has thrown four interceptions compared to two touchdowns during the losing streak.
“With injuries or without injuries, you can’t get in your own way, and that’s what we’ve continuously done. Great teams don’t do that,” Prescott recently told reporters.
Prescott will go against fellow 2016 draftee, Carson Wentz, under center for the Eagles. The QB for Philadelphia has had a better statistical season then Prescott. That might be why Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson all but guaranteed a win for his team, despite two losses to Dallas last year.
Watch: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
2. Detroit seeks redemption as Lions and Vikings battle
After Detroit’s recent loss against the Green Bay Packers, former Lions great Barry Sanders tweeted that the “Lions played too well to have the game end this way.” He was referring to calls by the referees, that even the NFL agreed were bad.
But the referees aren’t entirely to blame for Detroit’s struggles. The team has a knack for blowing leads, giving up an 18-point advantage in the first game of the season before allowing the Packers to come back from 13 down last week. They’ve been unlucky as well, from a first-week tie to last Sunday’s last-second defeat.
The Lions are hoping to catch a break against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, a team that hasn’t won outside of their home stadium. But it won’t be easy, as the Vikings are confident after winning two straight games.
Watch: Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox
3. Battle of the Birds: Seahawks vs Ravens
Despite playing in different conferences, the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens have a lot in common. The teams represent coastal cities, features birds as their mascots and have top five offenses. The Ravens lead the league in yards per game, and the Seahawks aren’t far behind in fifth place. But the real story is their quarterbacks.
The Seahawks have the steady Russell Wilson under center, one of the strongest quarterbacks in the league. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound signal caller is known for his strong passing, but also being able to tuck the ball and run. Wilson has emerged as an MVP candidate this season, having thrown 14 touchdowns and no interceptions, not to mention running in three more scores.
Meanwhile, the Raven’s Lamar Jackson is a 6-foot-2 string-bean known for his feet, as the second-year man from Louisville ran for over 1,500 yards during his final two years in college. “I take advantage…I’m trying to win at the end of the day. If I gotta run, I gotta do it,” Jackson recently told reporters. That’s not to say Jackson can’t throw, in fact, he prefers it. His arm has been instrumental in leading the team to a 4-2 record.
The QBs will go head-to-head this Sunday in what promises to be a showdown of a current great against an up-and-comer. It’s anyone’s guess who’ll come out on top.
WATCH: Seattle Seahawks vs. Baltimore Ravens at 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox