The NFC East race isn’t over, but at this point it’s pretty easy to figure it out.
After Monday night, we probably should count the Washington Redskins out until further notice. They lost Alex Smith to a season-ending injury in November, and Colt McCoy to a season-ending fractured fibula on Monday night. They’re 6-6 with Mark Sanchez at quarterback the rest of the way. Good luck.
That leaves us with the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Dallas Cowboys, and next Sunday’s game between the two teams in Dallas should clear some things up.
The Eagles are still in the mix after a 28-13 win over the Redskins on Monday night. It wasn’t a pretty win, but little with the Eagles this season has been pretty. They just leaned on a Sanchez-led Redskins team and that was enough.
The Eagles are just 6-6, a game behind the Cowboys, but the season might look a lot different after their trip to Texas.
Eagles probably need to beat Dallas to win NFC East
The Eagles aren’t totally out of the wild-card race in the NFC, but the defending champs’ clearest path back to the playoffs is stealing the division from the Cowboys.
If the Cowboys win Sunday, they’ll be up two games on the Eagles and own the head-to-head tiebreaker with three games to go. Dallas won the first meeting and they’d sweep the season series with a win Sunday. A loss would virtually eliminate the Eagles from the division race.
With a win, it doesn’t look too bad for Philadelphia. They’d have an edge in the tiebreaker, because they’d split the season series with the Cowboys and it would be the Cowboys’ second division loss. That’s the second tiebreaker among division foes. The Eagles are 3-1 in divisional games.
Philadelphia still has remaining games against the Rams and Texans, so it’s not as easy as beating the Cowboys and cruising to another division championship. But they’d give themselves a chance.
The question of whether the Eagles are capable of going on the road and beating the red-hot Cowboys is a tougher to answer.
Eagles weren’t that sharp on Monday night
Philadelphia wasn’t too sharp on Monday night. They gave up a 90-yard touchdown run to Adrian Peterson. They were stuffed on a bad play call on fourth-and-1 near the goal line. Even with Sanchez predictably doing little with the offense — Sanchez was a free agent until Nov. 19, when Washington signed him after the Smith injury — the Eagles led just 14-13 through three quarters. But the Eagles pulled away in the fourth quarter.
The best thing you can say about the Eagles this season is they’ve managed to keep themselves alive in the playoff picture through 13 weeks. They have rarely looked like the team that was the talk of the NFL last season. Part of that is due to their own injuries, or perhaps Carson Wentz working his way back from a torn ACL, or the loss of some key assistant coaches in the offseason. And, yes, the Super Bowl hangover.
But all of that can be eliminated with a great finish. As crazy as it sounds for a 6-6 team, the Eagles still control what happens. If they win out, they’ll win the NFC East. If the 2017 version of the Eagles is going to re-emerge, it has to be now.
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