Either the Eagles or the Cowboys have won the NFC East title in five of the past six seasons. That trend will continue with one of them taking the division again in the 2023 NFL regular season.
There’s almost no doubt about both teams making the NFC playoffs again. The winner of the division can finish as high as the No. 1 seed, getting home-field advantage and the only bye in the tournament. But the runner-up will drop to No. 5 and the top wild-card spot, stuck with an opening road playoff game at whoever wins the weak NFC South.
After Dallas beat Philadelphia 33-13 at home on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 14, here’s breaking down the latest edition of the two-team race:
NFC East standings
The Eagles held a one-game lead going into Week 14, by virtue of beating the Cowboys at home in Week 9. Had they won in Week 14, they would have opened up a two-game lead with only four games left plus have the head-to-head tiebreaker.
But after the Cowboys win, they have not only matched the Eagles’ overall record, but also went into first place with a better division record than the Eagles, 4-1 vs. 3-1.
Eagles playoff picture
The Eagles entered Week 14 still holding the NFC No. 1 seed, a game ahead of 49ers, who lead the NFC West and beat them in Philadelphia in Week 13. The Lions, who lead the NFC North, were also one game behind in the standings. Now, Philadelphia is temporarily the No. 5 seed despite having the same 10-3 record as Dallas and San Francisco.
Philadelphia could have clinched at least a wild-card playoff berth in Week 14 with a win — given the Seahawks and Rams lost. They could also have qualified with a win and combined losses by either the Packers and Lions or Packers and Vikings.
However, the Eagles weren’t able to beat the Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football.” That will delay their quest to clinch at least one more week.
Cowboys playoff picture
The Cowboys went into Week 14 as the top wild card at No. 5, three games ahead of the No. 6 Vikings, No. 7 Packers, No. 8 Rams and No. 9 Seahawks.
Dallas could have clinched at least a wild-card playoff berth with a win in three ways. The simplest, without factoring in ties, is combining that victory with losses by the Vikings, Seahawks, Packers, Buccaneers and Rams and a Lions win.
That didn’t come to pass, but the Cowboys still positioned themselves to clinch a playoff berth soon after beating the Eagles. They also will remain in the mix to win the NFC East.
Eagles schedule vs. Cowboys schedule
Here are the opponents for Philadelphia and Dallas, besides each other, for the final five weeks:
*Strength of schedule based on opponents’ winning percentage
The Eagles are just ending a brutal stretch of games across conferences on Sunday. Then they don’t face a team with a winning record the rest of the way.
The Cowboys, on the flip side, still have their two toughest non-conference games crossing over to play the AFC East ahead of the Lions. The Commanders are the only sub-.500 team left on the slate.
Eagles vs. Cowboys division prediction
Had the Eagles beaten the Cowboys a second time, then it would have been an almost insurmountable two-game lead plus a tiebreaker. The Cowboys would have needed to then finish three games better in the final four games, which is near impossible.
After the Cowboys win, they will be in first place by having one more division win, for now. But the Eagles, even with road losses to the Cowboys and say, the Seahawks, should finish at least 3-2 over the final five games.
The Cowboys are looking at a 3-2 en d in the same stretch. In that case, the Eagles win the division by a full game, regardless of the Week 14 outcome. While beating Philadelphia is huge to both stay in and eventually win the division race, Dallas still has a daunting task ahead.
Should the Eagles and Cowboys both end up 5-1 in division play after splitting their series in Week 14, it comes down to what Philadelphia does against Seattle and Arizona vs. what Dallas does against Buffalo, Miami and Detroit.
When looking at the remaining big picture, the Eagles likely will lose the No. 1 seed after their loss to the Cowboys, but they still should be favored to take the division.
Final record projections: 1. Eagles 14-3 | 2. Cowboys 13-4
Source : ESPN.com