For a game between the Cowboys and the Eagles, there certainly has been a lot of talk about bears this week.

No, it hasn’t been the still-hapless Chicago Bears injected into the conversation about the NFC East scrap between Dallas and Philadelphia on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), but instead the mythological and metaphorical “bear” — he who must not be antagonized, he who must be overcome.

Right around the time I was talking to Cowboys legend and FOX Sports analyst Michael Irvin in a telephone chat and hearing how he believes the Eagles are the “bear” that Mike McCarthy’s team must get past to launch a Super Bowl run, Jerry Jones was also deciding to get ursine with his vocabulary, prompting Dak Prescott to swiftly follow suit.

“I don’t want to do anything to poke the bear,” Jones told reporters, resisting the temptation to talk up this Eagles clash with his typical level of hype.

“Pour honey on me,” Prescott joked later, embracing the theme.

What comes next need not be predicated on whether you’re a Bears fan, a fan of actual bears or just a teddy bear when it comes to big, hairy, scary creatures of angry intent. Bear with me a moment here. There is, I promise, some actual analogical sense to the story, once the grizzly puns stop.

When Irvin talks about the Eagles being a bear, he means it in the sense that Jalen Hurts and company are a real, breathing, imposing obstacle that stands between where the Cowboys currently are and where they would like to get to.

At 5-2, the Cowboys have been respectable so far, despite a dispiriting defeat to the Arizona Cardinals and a resounding beatdown suffered against the San Francisco 49ers. Even so, if Dallas loses Sunday, the Eagles will be categorically established not only as the top team in the NFC East but also the entire conference’s strongest threat.

[Dallas Cowboys’ 5-2 start impacts Super Bowl futures, Dak Prescott’s MVP odds]

There is only one thing Dallas can do about it.

“Go out and beat them,” Irvin said. “That’s how you get past the big, bad bear. That’s what the Eagles are for these Cowboys. It is the only way. You go and beat them, and the next time you go and beat them again. The Eagles were the bear for the Cowboys when I was playing, and they are absolutely the bear for Dak and the whole team right now.”

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Irvin draws some parallels between this game and a matchup that took place a full 30 years ago, during the second of Dallas’ 1990s title seasons. In 1993’s Week 14, Irvin caught the first touchdown pass in a 23-17 Dallas victory that he believes played a role in tilting football history.

Even though the Cowboys had won the Super Bowl the previous campaign, completing a season sweep of a hated rival led to a fresh surge in confidence. Jimmy Johnson’s squad did not lose another game and went on to clinch another Super Bowl ring.

“I remember that game and how it felt to turn that rivalry around,” Irvin said. “The Eagles were the team we had to get past, in our own minds as much as anything else. It was something that was in our way, and we had to get by it.

“The feeling once we did that, we felt invincible. When you get past a team that has been blocking your path then it has this huge effect on everything, and it is strong enough to stay with you the rest of the way. 

“This season, the Eagles have done a great job of winning while not playing their best football. A.J. Brown has been incredible. If the Cowboys can overcome all that, it can be that jolt of momentum they need.”

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The Cowboys came charging out of their bye week last Sunday, with Prescott reeling off three first-half touchdowns on the way to a comfortable victory against the Los Angeles Rams.

Prior to that game, Prescott sat down with Irvin and the analyst liked what he heard. With Sunday’s game to be followed by three home games and a trip to the Carolina Panthers, the Playmaker believes this weekend can set the tone for the team’s season.

“Excited for that matchup” – Dak Prescott on the trip to Philly

“He said they want to use the bye week as a demarcation point, to be a different team from now on,” Irvin said. “A new beginning for him, too.

“I remember when Dak first got here. Everyone thinks they have forever to do things, but time touches you. Dak is starting to see that. He knows that now is the time, it has to be. Starting with beating the Eagles.”

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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