SNIDER: Eagles are really Commanders' biggest rival

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Forget those "We want Dallas" chants. That's your father's RFK rivalry.

The series has been flat for many years, rekindled only by Washington Commanders fans desperate for anything to circle on the calendar when January was often left blank.

But the Philadelphia Eagles? That's getting personal. And, that's what makes real rivalries.

Eagles fans are the enemy within Washington's borders. Transplants now working around the nation's capital while still swearing allegiance to their old Pennsylvania roots just a few hours away.

You've seen those mixed marriages in the stands – one wearing the burgundy and the other donning green. Why, it's even happened in my own family.

Dallas is too far away for fans to easily travel, but Philadelphia is sending busloads of fans to FedEx Field on Sunday hoping to once more take over the stands. The last few years have seen nearly 90 percent wearing green rather than burgundy. Luckily, they're such considerate visitors – not – unlike treating Washington fans to brutal conditions up at the cheesesteak capital.

Free agency has players not buying into rivalries much anymore. Certainly, past Washington locker rooms really didn't care about Dallas, but were smart enough to pretend before the cameras. It was just another game.

But ask Washington quarterback Carson Wentz if it's just another game. Oh, he downplayed facing his old team, but Wentz's body language screamed for vengeance. He helped take the Eagles to a Super Bowl before blowing out his knee with two games remaining. Two years later, Philadelphia traded him.

"I've been a part of this one," Wentz said. "I know the emotion that goes into it from the other side. So, I'm excited for it. But again, you try not to make the game bigger than it needs to be. Every week's a big week."

Besides the personal angle, it's also a series that always seems to include the weirdest games, upsets and strangest plays of the season. But, the Eagles have gotten the better of the Commanders in the past.

Washington may hold a slight 88-82-6 mark since first meeting in 1934 when the Boston Redskins swept both games. But, Philadelphia is 40-25 since 1990. Last year, the Eagles won 27-17 and then 20-16 in the "Covid" Tuesday game that broke Washington's playoff hopes.

The path to the NFC East title may go through Philadelphia rather than Dallas, so Washington needs to win Sunday to avoid falling two games back just three weeks into the season. And, it needs to regain its edge versus a division foe. Washington clinched its last two playoff appearances in 2015 and 2020 by beating Philadelphia. The Eagles clinched their 2019 Wild Card with a victory at FedEx.

The best rivalries have personal angles and playoff ambitions. Both lie ahead for Washington versus Philadelphia. The next week versus Dallas feels like just another game.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.

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