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The Eagles loss on Monday night shakes up the NFC East tiebreaker situation

The Cowboys didn’t win this week, but they took a small step forward in the divisional race.

Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys got smoked on Sunday and that was awful. But then, the Philadelphia Eagles let the Seattle Seahawks steal one at the end and that was fantastic. And when we say fantastic, it’s not just because of our general disdain for the Eagles (although that’s part of it), but rather what it does to the NFC East race.

First off, let’s remind ourselves why that’s important.

Winning the East comes with a home playoff game rather than going on the road, and we can’t gloss over the fact that the Cowboys are sensational at AT&T Stadium and sometimes not so good on the road. Additionally, winning the division means they would be either the no. 2 or no. 3 seed in the NFC, with San Francisco presumably holding on to the no. 1 spot. So, not only would they play at home for the Wild Card game, but they would draw the Detroit Lions in the Divisional Round which is way more desirable than traveling to the bay.

Now, that we know what’s at stake, how can the Cowboys get there?

Right now, both teams are 10-4 and technically the Cowboys still hold the tiebreaker over the Eagles, but we’ve already discussed that this is just temporary. If both teams win out, they’ll both finish at 13-4, but the Eagles will win the tiebreaker by condition #5 below, the strength of victory.

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory in all games.

The Eagles win this tiebreaker because they have beaten tougher teams than the Cowboys and that is out of the Cowboys' control.

However, if both teams lose one more game, things are quite different. And it doesn’t matter which game each team loses, with one lone exception, the Cowboys must beat the Washington Commanders in the regular-season finale.

The Eagles must lose one other game. We know that must happen. If the Cowboys also lose one other game (and it’s not to Washington), the Cowboys will win either tiebreaker scenario #2, #3, or #4 depending on who they lose to. Let’s break down each scenario.

If the Eagles' one loss is to the New York Giants, the Cowboys win this tiebreaker...

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

This is because the Eagles will have two losses in the division whereas the Cowboys will only have one. But if that doesn’t happen, don’t fret. There is another way.

If the Eagles' one loss is to the Arizona Cardinals, and the Cowboys' one loss is to the Detroit Lions, then the Cowboys win this tiebreaker...

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

This is because all of the Eagles’ losses will come from common opponents whereas one fewer of the Cowboys' losses will be from common opponents, and that loss will be from Detroit, a non-common opponent.

If the Eagles’ one loss is to the Arizona Cardinals, and the Cowboys’ one loss is to the Miami Dolphins, then the Cowboys win this tiebreaker...

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

In this scenario, the Eagles will have one AFC loss (Jets) while the Cowboys will have two (Bills and Dolphins), meaning Dallas will have one fewer NFC loss, therefore winning the conference tiebreaker.

The Cowboys still need help that they wouldn’t need had they beaten Buffalo, but it’s not inconceivable that they get it as the Eagles have now dropped three straight games. Additionally, another Eagles loss buys the Cowboys another buffer by being able to lose another game and still win the division. That’s big considering they have a couple of tough games remaining. Monday night’s loss by Philly was meaningful.

This is a lot to take in, but here is a quick summary that tells you everything you need to know with much fewer words.

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