ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have done everything they were supposed to by winning four lower-stakes games since losing to Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The rematch Sunday night is for first place in the NFC East, which carries the guarantee of starting the playoffs at home. Dallas has a 14-game home winning streak, the club's longest since 1981.

It's also a December meeting of star quarterbacks in Prescott and Hurts, which means the stakes can't be much higher in the regular season.

The Cowboys have to find the same focus and execution from the past month, after coach Mike McCarthy was away from the team midweek for an emergency appendectomy after falling ill Wednesday morning. He expects to be on the sideline on game day.

“These are the moments we’ve prepared for, to be honest with you,” Prescott said. “It’s not that we didn’t for all of those past games, but we understood that this is the stretch in the season when you look at the schedule that you have to be excited about.”

In the first game of November, the Eagles (10-2) took a two-game division lead with their 28-23 victory over the Cowboys (9-3).

That lead is back to one game after San Francisco essentially matched its Week 5 rout of the Cowboys at home with a 42-19 victory last weekend in Philadelphia.

“You have to drag yourself through the mud in order to grow,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “It’s not comfortable, but it’s necessary. But then it’s about understanding why you’re here in the first place and having that confidence going into the next game.”

A win by the Eagles, defending NFC champs, is a huge step toward a second consecutive NFC East title, something that hasn't happened in the division since Philadelphia won four in a row from 2001-04.

A Dallas victory would have the teams all but even on the way to the sixth time in seven seasons that one of the two takes the division crown.

“In the sense of trying to get home field, understanding our success through the past couple of years and how great it would be to play the postseason here at home, it's huge,” Prescott said. “It’s definitely a big game.”


The 60-year-old was feeling abdominal pain when he went to the Dallas medical staff. It didn't take long for them to send him to the hospital, where he had the appendectomy a few hours later.

McCarthy spent Thursday at home, but was in touch with players and coaches and planning his usual Thursday night call sheet meeting with Prescott and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

It's McCarthy's fourth season as coach of the Cowboys, but first as the play-caller since Kellen Moore didn't return. Schottenheimer took Moore's title after a year as a consultant on the Dallas staff.

Schottenheimer assured reporters, in the Thursday meeting usually handled by McCarthy, that he was talking football with the head coach in the phone calls.

“Hey, you can’t have a conversation with Mike without … He’s going to talk about two things, football or Pittsburgh,” Schottenheimer said of the Pittsburgh native. “I don’t know if Pittsburgh came up, but football definitely came up.”

As to whether Schottenheimer was “warming up in the bullpen” preparing to call plays, as he has done with the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams and Seattle, the 50-year-old son of late NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer said no.

“We've both called it and installed it enough,” Schottenheimer said. “He’s gonna be ready to roll.”


Linebacker Shaq Leonard is planning to make his Eagles debut six days after signing following what he said was a stunning release of the three-time All-Pro by Indianapolis.

The Philadelphia defense has been strong against the run, but is 29th against the pass and in red zone efficiency.

“I’m not going to say they need me,” said the 28-year-old Leonard, who had back issues with the Colts and played for them when Sirianni was on the staff. “I wanted to go somewhere that would fit me, that a coach knew who I was as a person and a player. That’s why it fit me. It wasn’t so much a need.”


Prescott and Hurts are among the top three along with Niners QB Brock Purdy to win AP NFL MVP, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

The Dallas QB leads the NFL with 26 touchdown passes and eight games with a passer rating of at least 100, including six of seven since one of the worst showings of his career in the 42-10 loss to the Niners.

With a touchdown passing and another rushing, Hurts can join Arizona's Kyler Murray (2020) as the only QBs with at least one passing TD and rushing TD in nine games in the same season. Buffalo's Josh Allen has the same chance this week.

“I haven't been in any game like this where it's been this close and two of the MVP front-runners,” Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse said. “Hurts has the name, but the film these last couple of weeks, it's all pointing toward Dak. We have the good guy on our side.”

In the loss to the Niners, Hurts had a season-low 57.8% completion rate and a fourth-quarter concussion check. He hasn't shown up on the injury report this week.

“We’ve definitely been challenged and stretched out in a ton of different ways,” Hurts said. “It’s about remaining resilient through it and always responding the right way, whether it’s a win or a loss.”



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