HomeFootball DirtCowboys Defeat Eagles to Even NFC East, Continue Winning Streak

Cowboys Defeat Eagles to Even NFC East, Continue Winning Streak

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FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys have consecutive wins over teams with winning records after not having any among their first eight victories.

They made no secret of how much they wanted to beat Philadelphia in a rematch of NFC East rivals.

Now that Dallas has the 33-13 win, here come three straight playoff contenders in the final four weeks.

First, it’s a dreaded December game in Buffalo (7-6) on Sunday, then a trip to the team ahead of the Bills in the AFC East, division-leading Miami. Third, back home — where Dallas has a 15-game winning streak — against likely NFC North winner Detroit.

“We look at this as a gauntlet,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think it’s a great schedule, in my view, because it gives us a chance to play playoff football. Every team we play is going to be battling for the playoffs. I think this lays up really good for us because we got to go on the road and win.”

As good as the feeling was for Dallas after Prescott’s career-best seventh consecutive game with at least two touchdown passes, the Cowboys (10-3) don’t control their fate in trying to win the NFC East.

Despite consecutive losses that dropped them into a tie for the division lead, the Eagles will secure the home playoff game that goes with the NFC East title if the defending NFC champs win their remaining games. There won’t be a winning record among the four opponents.

Owner Jerry Jones seems resigned to the idea of going on the road in the playoffs for the second year in a row. Last season, Dallas manhandled Tampa Bay before the offense sputtered in a loss at San Francisco.

“We’re going to have to come up the backside possibly,” Jones said, alluding to another second-place finish behind Philadelphia in the division. “But we can. I’ve seen it done before. I saw the Giants do it after we’d beaten them twice (in 2007), and they end up being Super Bowl champs.”

There’s one other thing to consider. It’s a three-team race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and the first-round bye that goes with it. The Cowboys and Eagles are even with the 49ers, who hold the tiebreaker because they beat Dallas and Philadelphia.

At least the Cowboys can say they made a race of it. The alternative was Philadelphia all but clinching the division.

“We needed it. Let’s not sugarcoat that,” Prescott said. “But we’ve got to turn the page quick, especially in this league, and especially with where we’ve placed ourselves.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Dallas is on the verge of a third consecutive playoff berth for the first time since going to the postseason six straight times and winning three Super Bowls from 1991-96. A common denominator is turnover margin.

The Cowboys were top two in the NFL in that category the past two seasons and right now are tied for second at plus-10 with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati after forcing and recovering three fumbles against the Eagles while losing one on Jalen Carter’s 42-yard return of Prescott’s fumble for a touchdown.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The Cowboys need help, and they mostly have a Week 3 loss at three-win Arizona to blame. While Dallas currently holds the tiebreaker on the Eagles with a 4-1 division record to Philadelphia’s 3-1 mark, there’s a good chance both will end up 5-1.

The next tiebreaker is common opponents, and the Cowboys likely will need wins over the Bills and Dolphins to have a chance with that one. The Eagles have already beaten both.

If both teams win their remaining games, Philadelphia would have the fourth tiebreaker with a 10-2 conference record to Dallas’ 9-3 mark.

STOCK UP

The versatility at receiver continues to show up, even in games without gaudy numbers. CeeDee Lamb has a touchdown in five consecutive games, the first Dallas receiver to do that since Dez Bryant, the franchise leader in receiving TDs, 10 years ago. Tight end Jake Ferguson is becoming a trusted playmaker. Michael Gallup had a highlight-reel catch for 39 yards.

STOCK DOWN

While it’s hard to knock an offensive line that was good enough to go three consecutive games recently without allowing Prescott to be sacked, the performance against the Eagles was spotty. Prescott was sacked three times, and there were three holding penalties. Right tackle Terence Steele, left guard Tyler Smith and center Tyler Biadasz had one apiece. Dallas entered Monday with a league-high 97 penalties.

INJURIES

The run defense could be facing a significant loss after defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins sprained an ankle against the Eagles. The Cowboys acquired him in a trade last season, and re-signed him over the summer, to address the team’s biggest weakness.

KEY NUMBER

30 — Brandon Aubrey’s NFL record run of consecutive made field goals to start a career is now 30 after he kicked four against the Eagles. The first two were his longest, from 60 and 59 yards. Dallas also became the first team in league history to score at least 30 points in its first seven home games.

NEXT STEPS

The Cowboys had never played a December game in Buffalo until their most recent visit in 2015. The Bills won 16-6.

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AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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