The NFC East is all but on the line today as the (7-7) Philadelphia Eagles and (7-7) Dallas Cowboys meet at Lincoln Financial Field for the second and final time this season (4.25pm ET Sunday).
For Dallas, it’s pretty simple. Win and they’re in. For Philadelphia, they’ll need to win their final two games in order to make the playoffs. With the Cowboys ending their season against the three-win Washington Redskins and the Eagles ending theirs with the three-win New York Giants, it’s safe to say this Sunday’s matchup is essentially a de facto NFC East Championship game.
It has been a rough season for the NFC East, which has earned the nickname, NFC Least based on the historically bad performance of the division from top to bottom. The Giants and Redskins have just six wins between them and leading into week 15 of the season, all four of the division’s teams have sub-.500 records. Both Philadelphia and Dallas won last week to bring them to the record of 7-7, making the East the only division in the NFL not to have a team over .500 at this stage in the season, let alone a team with double digit victories as every other division in the league currently boasts.
As an analyst for NBC’s Sunday Night Football remarked a few weeks ago: “Yes, a team from the NFC East has to go to the playoffs. It’s tradition.”
To make matters worse, not only will that team reach the postseason, but by nature of being a division winner, they will do so with the fourth seed. The New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings are all still jockeying for playoff position as any one of those teams can still earn the first overall seed and one of the two first round byes. They represent the best of the East. The Eagles and Cowboys not so much.
Given that Sunday’s game will essentially determine which of the NFC Least’s top two contenders reaches the postseason, it is worth focusing on this matchup. The Cowboys and Eagles are bitter division rivals, spurred on by two fan bases and in some cases, locker rooms, who genuinely do not like each other. Both teams are led by young quarterbacks, who happened to be drafted the same year and whose careers are constantly being compared. Both teams have also been banged up at points this year, with most recently, Dak Prescott narrowly avoiding the injury report for this matchup, whereas Lane Johnson for the Eagles has already been ruled out. Both have also found themselves on the end of failing expectations this year, something that could cost Dallas head coach Jason Garrett his job.
Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles: Last Time We Met
Last week, Dallas absolutely demolished the Los Angeles Rams, not only to give them their most dominant victory of the year but also to give them their first victory over a plus-.500 team. Prior to this, Dallas’ best win on the year came against the Philadelphia Eagles when the two teams met in week seven of the season. At that point, Dallas still looked like a legitimate NFC contender whereas the Eagles were starting to sink below the .500 line.
The Cowboys picked up a totally lopsided win, defeating the Eagles 37-10 at home in Texas. Prescott looked great, completing 21 of his 27 passes for 239 yards, 106 of which went to Amari Cooper. In addition, on the ground, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown. Things were starting to roll again in Dallas, following the team’s three-game losing streak that had followed a three-game winning streak to begin the season. Behind their top trio, the Cowboys took back control of the NFC East and have held at least a share of the division ever since.
A tough schedule did Dallas no favors. Neither did Prescott’s recent struggles and Garrett’s unfortunate fourth quarter coaching decisions that may have cost the Cowboys a few big wins. The same could be said for Philadelphia, as a few bad fourth quarter calls and decisions by Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson, might have had a negative impact in some games.
Here we are, with both teams sitting at 7-7, looking to win the NFC East with an at-best record of 9-7 and an at worst-mark of 8-8. At the very least, that means the division will not be sending a sub-.500 team to the playoffs, leaving the Seattle Seahawks in the late 2000s as the only team with that distinction in the modern 16-game NFL format.
Today there are several factors likely to determine the outcome. For the most part, Dallas has been the better, more well-rounded team this year. They have had success in the air and on the ground, something the Eagles have lacked due to extensive injuries.
Dallas is also coming off a huge win, one that if nothing else, instills confidence in a team that going into week 15 had lost three games in a row and four of their last five. The Eagles are coming off a win as well, but it was in a game that they trailed going into the final five minutes against the three-win Redskins. There is reason to believe the Eagles can build from recent momentum as in that game, rookie standout Miles Sanders became the first Philadelphia running back in nearly three years to record a 100-yard rushing game. Wentz, who has had his critics this year, also played well in the guts and glory of the game, helping to establish Greg Ward as a potential breakout wide receiver for the team.
Our Preview’s Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
Philadelphia and Dallas are coming off much-needed wins but the train can’t stop for either. As mentioned earlier in this NFL game preview, a win for Dallas means they are in the playoffs and a win for the Eagles means they control their own destiny on the road to the postseason. The Cowboys enter as 2.5 point road favorites with the best USA bookmakers’ online sports betting sites, making this a tough spread to bet. The Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles predictions for this preview go like this:
- It has been several years since the Cowboys beat the Eagles twice in one season so look for Philly to get the win in their favorite role to play, that of the underdog. Bet the Eagles +2.5pts @ best odds of -105 with Bovada Sportsbook.
- Look for the over 46 total points to be scored @ -105 with Bovada, who again offer the best odds for this selection.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.