The Future of the Eagles, Cowboys and NFC East Is Right Now

How do you take what is already one of the most bitter rivalries in professional sports in Eagles-Cowboys and ratchet up the disdain and intensity? Just let them battle for division supremacy for the next decade or so.

That's where things appear to be headed, because it's safe to say that Sunday night's first ever meeting between quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott won't be the last. And seeing as they're already vying for first place as rookies, it's not unreasonable to think this might be only the beginning of a years-long tug-of-war over the NFC East.

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This is the future of the division, and it's not some distant forecast. It's happening right now.

Sure, Wentz and Prescott have started just six games each in the NFL, so anointing the Eagles and Cowboys as the perennial favorites to come out of the East for years to come is probably a tad premature. As special as their young signal-callers look, half of a season does not a career make. Even the natural ebbs and flows of the NFL — free agency and injuries — could dictate the rest of their rosters will not be good enough to compete in any given season.

Yet if we were to presume that what we've seen so far from these 23-year-old players is any indication of what lies ahead, the Eagles and Cowboys are positioned to be contenders for a long time. New York and Washington, purely based on the quarterback situations, not so much.

The Giants are still in the mix as long as Eli Manning is in the fold, but how much longer is he going to be around? He's 35 now, with a contract that runs through 2019, taking him through his 38th birthday. Even if Manning reaches the conclusion of the deal and continues play at a high level, Wentz and Prescott will be entering their primes and likely have signed extensions by then.

Washington's quarterback situation is somehow less certain with Kirk Cousins currently on a one-year deal. Cousins has played well enough that the franchise can conceivably extend him long-term after this season. He's not exactly been stellar though, is already 28 and at his best, not as dynamic an athlete or transcendent a talent as Wentz or Prescott.

Neither team has a clear plan of succession at quarterback either for when Manning retires or should Cousins fail. Depending on how the respective front offices navigate these dicey waters, the potential exists for both teams to bottom out at some point in the near future.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia and Dallas, say what you want about drawing conclusions about a player too soon, but there is little reason to believe there's any end in sight to what Wentz and Prescott are doing as rookies.

Wentz has struggled a bit more in recent weeks, but bumps in the road are natural. The fact is the Eagles have a lot invested in this player, so barring a complete breakdown, he's going to be here awhile.

The Cowboys didn't trade an arm and a leg to get Prescott, so it would be easier to move on if it suddenly wasn't working out there. Then again, he hasn't really hit that rookie slump or had a bad game yet, and should he keeps Tony Romo on the bench when the four-time Pro Bowler returns from injury, that would speak volumes about the organization's commitment.

Both Wentz and Prescott are intelligent, poised and tough, with the arm and mobility to play at this level. There are many chapters to be written before they are considered great NFL quarterbacks.

Regardless, it's obvious that they'll be sticking around for awhile, giving the Eagles and Cowboys a leg up on their division foes.

No matter which side of the rivalry you're on, Wentz vs. Prescott figures to produce plenty of excitement for years to come. How the two wind up splitting all those NFC East championships — and maybe a few Lombardi Trophies too — will probably go a long way toward determining who's having the most fun.

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