Cowboys win; earn playoff game against team they own

There's an old maxim that says it's hard to beat a team three times in a season. The Eagles better hope that's true, because it looked really easy for the Cowboys to slap them around for the second time this season.

The Cowboys beat the Eagles in Philadelphia back in Week 9, they stomped a mudhole in them today in Week 17, and their third meeting will come about a week from right now. Today's trouncing gave the Cowboys the NFC East title and the third seed in the playoffs, while the loss sent the Eagles down to the sixth and final seed. As a result, we'll see the same teams in the same building next week. The Eagles probably shouldn't even bother to go home.

Oddly enough, the other NFC game next week will also be a rematch of a game that happened today. The Packers beat the Cardinals 33-7, and again, next week, we'll have the same teams in the same building.

The Cardinals, though, can tell themselves that their loss was a fluke. They can tell themselves they didn't care. After all, Matt Leinart(notes) and Brian St. Pierre(notes) took most of the snaps at quarterback, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt opted for a very conservative game plan. They knew they were playing the same team the next week, and that's how they chose to handle it.

The Eagles, on the other hand, really wanted to beat the rival Cowboys, win the division, and get a first-round bye next week. They played their starters the whole way. They wanted it. If they tell themselves they weren't trying, they're a bunch of fibbers. They went after it, and they were handled like silly putty. Total yards were 474-228, Cowboys. First downs were 21-9. There was no doubt about the better team on this day.

It leaves Andy Reid in quite the pickle. What he did against the Cowboys today is the best way he knows how to win a football game, and it's not like he can come in next week and do the same thing. He saw where that will get him. It's almost like the Eagles have to reinvent themselves over the course of a week.

We'll see how that goes.

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