There is no love lost between Zach Ertz’s Philadelphia Eagles and the rival Dallas Cowboys.
Zach made that much clear this week as the Eagles (4-4) got set to renew their NFC East rivalry coming off their week nine bye against the Cowboys (3-5) on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
“I know they don’t like me, and I don’t like them,” Zach said. “It’s a special feeling playing against them. It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere Sunday night at the Linc.”
No. 86 and the Philadelphia offense will face a stiff challenge against their long-time rivals.
Dallas has struggled offensively, but their defense has come on and the Cowboys currently rank fourth in the NFL in total yards allowed this season. The Dallas D has been stout all year, rank fifth in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game and they’ve done especially well against tight ends, only allowing two touchdowns to opposing TEs.
However, the absence of Cowboys veteran linebacker Sean Lee, who suffered a reoccurrence of a hamstring injury on Monday night and is set to miss Sunday’s tilt, may also work to Zach and the Goedert’s advantage. The two athletic tight ends could present a mismatch against linebackers Damien Wilson, Jaylon Smith, and rookie Leighton Vander Esch.
Philadelphia’s receiving corps could pose a threat to the weakened middle of the Cowboys’ defense on Sunday with newcomer Golden Tate teaming with Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, along with two legitimate weapons at tight end in Zach and rookie Dallas Goedert. In 10 career games against Dallas, Zach has 38 catches for 359 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
For Goedert, Sunday will mark his first career game against the Cowboys, the franchise he was named after. The rookie has been coming into his own as the season has progressed, and he attributes a lot of his early NFL success to his teammate, No. 86.
“Anytime you [have] someone like Zach in your locker room, let alone your meeting room is a good thing,” Goedert said. “I could just kind of follow him, try to emulate what he’s doing, try to be a true professional like him and hopefully have a career like he does.”
Both tight ends will look to continue building on their performances in the team’s win over Jacksonville in London before the bye.
Zach and Goedert each found the end zone at critical junctures in the game, which propelled Philly to a hard-fought win in London.
Zach has also been coming on as the season has progressed and Wentz has started to find him for more and more red zone targets. Over Philadelphia’s last five games, No. 86 has posted three games of over 100 yards and collected three touchdowns.
After participating in an extremely unique gameday atmosphere in London two weeks ago and then getting a much-needed midseason reprieve from play with their bye, Zach and his teammates are relishing their return home against a familiar foe.
Ideally, the Eagles would like to replicate the success they had against Dallas a year ago. The last time the Eagles faced the Cowboys with quarterback Carson Wentz under center was Week 11 last year in Dallas, and Wentz and Co. put on a clinic, throttling the Cowboys for a 37-9 victory. When the teams met again in Week 17, the Eagles had already clinched their playoff spot and rested several of their starters as they prepared for what would become a championship run.
But as both teams look up at the Washington Redskins and cling to hope in a season that hasn’t gone according to plan, the magnitude of this particular meeting, the 119th between the two teams, is amplified.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET and the game will air on NBC.