In a lot of ways, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are alike.

There are the blatant differences: The Cowboys' five Super Bowl wins to the Eagles' three pre-Super Bowl titles, Dallas' running -- and league-leading -- collection of suspended players, the inexperience of Philly coach Doug Pederson in contrast to the six-year run of ex-Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett at the helm of Dallas' staff.

Even if they are bitter NFC East rivals, though, the Birds and 'Boys do share some common ground.

They're both entering Year 2 of franchise quarterback projects, the Eagles with Carson Wentz and the Cowboys with fourth-round Tony Romo replacement Dak Prescott. They're both in search of either their first playoff win or divisional-round victory in nearly a decade. And they're both nationally headlining franchises, what with Dallas' "America's Team" label and Jerry Jones' brazen ownership, and the Eagles' high-expectations market and penchant for splashy offseason activity.

Wentz and Prescott headline a new era of the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry. USATSI

Only one, however, will win the division, of course. And there's a reasonable chance that only one will even make the playoffs in 2017 -- the last time both the Eagles and Cowboys earned a postseason trip, it was 2009, when a Romo-led Dallas beat Philly in Donovan McNabb's last game in green under brand-new AT&T Stadium lights.

Who will it be then? Who will be vying for the Lombardi Trophy, and who will be sitting at home, cringing while the other rival does it?

Recent history says the Cowboys should be the ones making a run at it all. They're 29-19 and have captured two divisional crowns since 2014, going 13-3 with rookies at quarterback (Prescott) and running back (All-Pro and Offensive Rookie of the Year nominee Ezekiel Elliott) a season ago.

But recent history doesn't always dictate the future, does it? In fact, Eagles fans have every reason to believe their team will make the playoffs (and the Cowboys will miss them) in 2017.

Let's start with the team whose owner hasn't been stealing headlines this summer thanks to incessant public commentary on the league's attempt to suspend the franchise's star player -- the one who's been accused of public indecency, domestic violence, a physical altercation and past drug usage all in a few months' time.

Wentz is the centerpiece of the Eagles entering Year 2 of his career. USATSI

The obvious centerpiece in Philadelphia is Wentz, and all signs point to a drastic leap forward for the former North Dakota State University standout in his sophomore campaign. No. 11 cooled off considerably during the latter half of his rookie season running the show in Philly, where, I'll remind you, he went from FCS project to NFL starter eight days before Opening Day. But the guy has never lacked for three big things you cannot teach: size, poise and athleticism. Couple those traits with reportedly improved mechanics, a cohesive blocking unit and a competent, if not explosive, wide receiver corps, the latter two of which Wentz rarely had in 2016, and you have the recipe for something like a 4,000-yard, 25-touchdown year.

Even if big-ticket addition Alshon Jeffery misses a game or two as he did a few times with the Chicago Bears, and even if Torrey Smith reverts only partway to Baltimore Ravens form as a deep-ball decoy, it'd be astounding if Wentz's new wideouts don't help him better his numbers from a season ago (16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions). There are questions at running back, where LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles will all vie for carries, but between the return of suspended tackle Lane Johnson and another offseason of chemistry with security-blanket tight end Zach Ertz, the Eagles' franchise quarterback is primed for an obvious embrace of the "franchise quarterback" title.

That alone makes the Eagles competitive. Consider, too, that with Wentz and Pederson both operating as rookies in 2016, with an oft-nonexistent rushing attack and a new defense littered with inexperience, the team still went 7-9 and finished just outside the wild-card picture.

There are, of course, plenty of concerns on the other side of the ball, where coordinator Jim Schwartz will be banking on added pass rushing contributions from first-rounder Derek Barnett and veteran reserve Chris Long to offset a lack of proven talent at cornerback. But even there, at the weakest position on the roster, the Eagles recently welcomed Ronald Darby, their speediest starting specimen since Asante Samuel, and have young CBs surrounded by underrated Pro Bowl candidates in linebackers Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham and safety Malcolm Jenkins -- all pieces capable of replicating big turnover marks.

The Eagles are a lot more suited for a playoff run than you'd think, and maybe that's simply because the near-biannual wave of sweeping changes from recent Andy Reid and Chip Kelly departures has fogged memories of Philly's postseason prominence. Their schedule isn't a cakewalk. Far from it. But neither is that of the Cowboys, whose final nine games include matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and two showdowns with the Eagles.

Prescott, right, and Elliott will both face added pressure in 2017. USATSI

And unlike the Eagles, the Cowboys will be hard pressed to top the bar their rookie sensations set in 2016. Star seasons for Prescott and Elliott may very well have been previews of what's to come rather than anomalies (and there's an argument to be made that even Eagles fans should want Dallas icons to be relevant for the sake of the rivalry). Whereas the arrow can almost only point up for Wentz, Pederson and a green Birds roster post-2016, however, the arrow is rather shaky in Jerry's World.

Start with Prescott. He burst out of Romo's shadow without hesitation, and he did it with excellent numbers (23 TDs, four INTs). By all accounts, he's also a likable leader, much like Wentz. In his case, though, almost all talk of his Pro Bowl debut was predicated on accompanying talk of the burden he didn't have to shoulder -- the burden assumed by a 1,600-yard, 15-touchdown outing from Elliott and a world-class offensive line. That's not to say Prescott didn't do his job and do it well. But is it reasonable to expect him to replicate, let alone improve upon, his performance on an offense that lost two starters up front and could be without Elliott for a sizable chunk of the season? Probably not.

The defense is another story. A worse story. Dallas' secondary has been struggling for years, but replacing two starting cornerbacks and both starting safeties in the same year is often a ticket for a bumpy ride, and that's exactly what Rod Marinelli is trying to do in 2017. Rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, the latter of whom spent part of the summer deflecting questions on domestic violence charges, will headline the CB group after, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Drew Davison puts it, "coming from big-time college programs that aren't used to having a suspect defense." Vet Nolan Carroll, a castoff from the Eagles' own perpetually rebuilt secondary and another offseason troublemaker, is the only proven name there. Most of the others of value on defense are either oft-injured (Sean Lee) or coming off an injury (Jaylon Smith). Or they're suspended.

A gander at Dallas' track record of big-season follow-ups isn't too promising, either. The year after the Cowboys, in 2007, posted 13 wins for the first time in 15 years? They fell to 9-7 and missed the playoffs. The year after, in 2009, they went 11-5 and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs? They fell to 6-10, out of the playoffs. The year after, in 2014, they won the East at 12-4? They crumbled to 4-12, last in the division.

Maybe recent history does dictate the future, after all.

The Washington Redskins, even with all their perennial front-office hullabaloo, should be fairly competitive. And the New York Giants, who somehow made their defensive free-agency splurge look smart and have now padded Eli Manning with additional offensive assistance, should be right there in the thick of the conference race, not to mention the NFC East.

The Eagles and Cowboys, then? "This town ain't big enough for the both of us," they'll cry.

And if Philadelphia takes the step forward its restocked lineup says the NFL should anticipate and the Cowboys even so much as stumble in their efforts to recapture the magic of 2016, the role of playoff contender will almost assuredly be reversed. The town will be big enough for one, and that one will be the Eagles.