Eagles news: A loss to the Cowboys would create a major playoff 'illusion'

Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys is the one the Philadelphia Eagles want the most. But even a loss may not hurt as much as you think.
Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

First place in the NFC East is on the line this coming Sunday night when the Philadelphia Eagles travel to AT&T Stadium to take on the Dallas Cowboys. 

The Eagles, who haven’t won in Arlington since 2017, beat the Cowboys at home by a score of 28-23 back in Week 9, and that result is the difference between the two rivals in the standings entering their Week 14 clash.

Philadelphia owns an NFL-best 10-2 record even after dropping a home game against the San Francisco 49ers, while Dallas sits at 9-3, having not lost a game since their trip to southeastern Pennsylvania last month.

It goes without saying that a Philadelphia win effectively puts the NFC East on ice. A two-game lead and a head-to-head sweep over their hated rival with just four weeks remaining all but guarantees the Eagles at least one home playoff game and keeps them on the inside track for the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Eagles if they lose this huge rivalry game

If both teams are sitting at 10-3 come Monday morning, Dallas will own the tiebreaker and the Eagles will be provisionally slotted into the No. 5 seed. 

However, it’s a tiebreaker that the Cowboys would only own because they played an extra division game, giving them a 4-1 record against the NFC East, compared to the Eagles’ 3-1 mark.

Despite being behind and not having any more games against the Cowboys on the schedule, the Eagles, not the Cowboys, would be the team that still controls their own destiny to win the NFC East and thus become the first team to win it in back-to-back years in nearly two decades.

While Dallas would be ahead if both are tied at 10-3, the Eagles would be the NFC East champions at 14-3 no matter what the Cowboys do moving forward.

If both teams were to win out, they’d both be 5-1 in the division, and they’d both be 10-2 against common opponents, with both having lost to the 49ers, the Eagles having lost to the New York Jets, and the Cowboys having lost to the Arizona Cardinals. But the Eagles would have just two NFC losses compared to the Cowboys’ three, giving them the edge in the standings.

Of course, both teams winning all four of their remaining games might be taking a bit for granted, and there are certainly other scenarios in which the two teams could end up tied and Dallas ends up with the tiebreaker. For instance, if both end up 13-4 and the Eagles end up with an extra division loss, then the Cowboys would take it.

But the bottom line remains the same: if the Eagles win the four games on their schedule after Sunday’s much anticipated clash with the Cowboys, they will win the NFC East, even if Dallas is in first place next week at this time and doesn’t lose another game.

The good news for Eagles fans is that they will most definitely be heavy favorites in all four of their remaining games at the Seattle Seahawks (6-6), at home and on the road against the New York Giants (4-8), and at home against the Cardinals (3-10). Having said that, this is the NFL, where anything can happen. Seattle, for example, has knocked off Philadelphia seven meetings in a row.

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The Cowboys, on the other hand, have the toughest part of their schedule coming up, with road dates against the Buffalo Bills (6-6) and the Miami Dolphins (9-3) before a visit from the Detroit Lions (9-3). They close out the year with a game against the Washington Commanders (4-9), where they inexplicably suffered a 20-point loss just one year ago.