The NFC East is the division no one wants to win. The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles sit atop the division with identical 7-7 records, though Dallas owns the tiebreaker by virtue of their 37-10 win over Philly in Week 7. That means a win by the Cowboys on the road Sunday clinches the division and the 4th seed in the NFC playoffs, according to NFL.com.
A win for Philadelphia allows the Eagles to control their own destiny. A win over Dallas at home means that all they would need to do is beat the New York Giants in the final game of the year, and the division — along with the playoff spot — is theirs.
But a loss for Dallas would not necessarily be fatal. A win over Washington coupled with an Eagles loss to New York would give the Cowboys the NFC East title after all, in that case.
In addition to securing their second straight postseason appearance, and fourth in six years, the division title may be the only way to save nine-year Head Coach Jason Garrett’s job. The 53-year-old has taken the Cowboys to the playoffs only three times in the past eight seasons, and never past the divisional round. According to some reports, former Ohio State University Coach Urban Meyer is waiting in the wings to step into the Cowboys’ job.
NBC Sports previews the NFC East Cowboys vs. Eagles battle, in the video below.
Garrett may be lucky to have a job after the Cowboys slogged through a dismal, four-game losing streak before suddenly resuscitating with a convincing, 44-21 drubbing of the 2018 NFC champions Los Angeles Rams last weekend. Not only did that win likely preserve Garrett’s position, it appears to have also resulted in the Cowboys being installed as 2 1/2-point favorites on the road Sunday, according to Sports Illustrated.
Dallas has compiled an 8-6 record against the spread this season, while Philadelphia has beat the spread just five times in their first 14 games.
Athlon Sports reports the point spread favoring Dallas by just 1 1/2 points.
Both teams have limped through the season, with a series of injuries that will still plague them in Sunday’s matchup. For Dallas, Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee will both miss the game Sunday, while bench players Joe Thomas and Luke Gifford are also ruled out.
For the home team, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are out for the season, and a third wide receiver, Nelson Agholor — the team’s first-round pick (20th overall) in 2015 — has missed practice for most of the week and will likely sit out the game against Dallas as well.