NFL Wire News

For Cowboys, playoffs start vs. Eagles


IRVING, Texas — The playoffs don’t officially begin until the first weekend in January, but the Cowboys (9-4) aren’t letting the calendar determine their path and their destiny.

To get to the postseason, they believe they have to win out.

So, as far they are concerned, the playoffs start Sunday when they play the Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) for first place in the NFC East.

A win would give the Cowboys control of their destiny with two games left in an interesting season that could see them miss the playoffs with an 11-5 record if they lose to the Eagles.

As of now, they would lose out in a tiebreaker with the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks because of poorer conference record.

The Cowboys plan to leave nothing to chance.

“I just feel that it’s like a playoff game,” owner Jerry Jones said. “It’s almost one of those that you have to win. I know you can do some math, and it isn’t necessarily that, but I certainly feel like every player, every coach has to do our very best out there.”

Victories in the final three games guarantee the Cowboys the division title and their first postseason berth since 2009. But a loss in any of their remaining games leaves the Cowboys needing help.

It seems inconceivable that the Cowboys could reach 11 victories and not make the playoffs. That has happened only twice ever in the NFL, including only once under the current 12-team playoff format that began in 1990. The 2008 New England Patriots went 11-5 and missed the postseason.

But it’s setting up as another possibility this season with the Lions, Arizona Cardinals and Seahawks jockeying for the final two spots and having better conference records than the Cowboys.

All it really means for the Cowboys is that they must win the rest of the games, starting against the Eagles.

“This is as big as it gets,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Certainly, I know it will be, for the Eagles and for us as well, a playoff-type of game. There’s a lot at stake. Both teams right now control their own destiny.

“They’re a really, really good football team as we well know. They got a hold of us there real good on Thanksgiving. But I’m convinced our team can play better and know we will, and hopefully we get the results we want.”

SERIES HISTORY: The Cowboys lead 62-49. Dallas has won three of the last five. The Eagles have won the last two, including a 33-10 blowout on Thanksgiving Day. Dallas has faced no team more than the 111 times they have faced the Eagles.

NOTES: DE Kenneth Boatright will be called up to the active roster from the practice squad, filling the spot vacated by cornerback Micah Pellerin when he was released on Monday. Pellerin was signed back to the practice squad after clearing waivers. … CB Tyler Patmon practiced for the first time since injuring his knee and ankle Nov. 9 at London’s Wembley Stadium. He is expected to play against the Eagles. … SS Jeff Heath practiced full for the first time since missing the past two games with a fractured thumb. He is wearing a cast and should play against the Eagles. … DE DeMarcus Lawrence practiced and should play against the Eagles after missing the Bears game with a rib injury. … QB Tony Romo (back) missed practice Wednesday as part of his normal day off during the week. He will be back on the field on Thursday and play against the Eagles.

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