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NFC Playoff Picture: Cowboys’ Christmas Eve loss sets up potential Eagles win-win for Week 17

Philly fans didn’t have to wait until Christmas Day to open up a present.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Riding a three-game losing streak, things obviously haven’t been going so great for the Philadelphia Eagles recently.

But, hey, at least the Dallas Cowboys aren’t winning games.

For the second week in a row, the Eagles’ top division rival lost to a team that Philly defeated earlier this season.

Nice.

Here’s what this Christmas Eve gift does and doesn’t mean as it relates to the NFC playoff picture:

  • The Cowboys losing to the Dolphins alone DOES NOT give Philly breathing room. If the Cowboys win out and the Eagles drop one game (regardless of which one), Dallas will clinch the NFC East based on either the division or conference record tiebreaker.
  • The Cowboys losing to the Dolphins DOES set up what I’ll refer to as a win-win scenario for the Eagles in Week 17. With Dallas hosting the Detroit Lions, the Eagles are going to get a favorable result with one of those two teams losing (ties aren’t real, shut up).
  • The most preferable outcome is the Cowboys beating the Lions since Philly needs Detroit to lose a game in order to take back control of the No. 2 seed. If the Lions win out (they finish the irseason with a home game against the Vikings) and the Eagles win out, Detroit wins on the common games record tiebreaker (5-1 to 4-2). The Cowboys winning doesn’t matter to the Eagles if Philly wins out since the Birds will very likely own the strength of victory tiebreaker.
  • The consolation prize to the Cowboys losing to the Lions is that it allows the Eagles to officially clinch the NFC East next weekend IF the Birds beat the Giants in Week 16 AND Cardinals in Week 17. The Eagles would be 12-4 entering Week 18 while the Cowboys would be 10-6.
  • Note that the Cowboys-Lions game in Dallas is set to take place on Saturday, December 30 before the Eagles host the Cardinals on Sunday, December 31.

Of course, it’d be nice to see the Eagles win a single game before merely assuming they can win out.

But they have a prime opportunity to do just that as 13.5-point home favorites against the Giants on Christmas Day.

Win and things may start to feel at least a little bit better.

Lose and it’s a disaster.

No pressure!

NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

THE TOP SEVEN

DIVISION LEADERS

1) San Francisco 49ers: 11-3* (clinched NFC West)
2) Detroit Lions: 11-4 (clinched NFC North)
3) Philadelphia Eagles: 10-4*
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-7

WILD CARDS

5) Dallas Cowboys: 10-5
6) Los Angeles Rams: 8-7
7) Seattle Seahawks: 8-7

IN THE HUNT

8) Minnesota Vikings: 7-8
9) Atlanta Falcons: 7-8
10) Green Bay Packers: 7-8
11) New Orleans Saints: 7-8

ON LIFE SUPPORT

12) Chicago Bears: 6-9
13) New York Giants: 5-9*

OFFICIALLY ELIMINATED

14) Washington Commanders: 4-11
15) Arizona Cardinals: 3-12
16) Carolina Panthers: 2-13

*Playing on Christmas Day.

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