NFC East standings, playoff picture: Why Cowboys lead Eagles in division race for Week 18

The Cowboys’ chances of winning the NFC East for the second time in three seasons suddenly got a whole lot better in Week 17.

Dallas’ win over Detroit didn’t only match Philadelphia’s record, but now it is set up in great position to take the division title in Week 18.

The Cowboys and Eagles, who have each clinched at least NFC wild-card playoff berths, are both 11-5 overall and 4-1 in NFC East play with one division game left each.

MORE: Updated standings, NFL playoff clinching scenarios for Week 17 bracket

So why is Dallas ahead? Here’s breaking down the latest heated two-team race and explaining the Cowboys’ current control:

NFC East standings, playoff picture

How Cowboys or Eagles can win the NFC East in Week 18

The Cowboys just need to beat the lowly rival Commanders in Washington in the regular-season finale to win the division title and lock down the playoff No. 2 seed behind the 49ers.

The Cowboys also can tie the Commanders and win the division if the Eagles also tie the Giants. The Cowboys can lose to the Commanders and still win the division if the Eagles lose to the Giants.

The Eagles therefore can only win the division with a tie or win vs. the Giants if the Cowboys lose to the Commanders. 

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Why Cowboys have the NFC East tiebreaker over Eagles

Because there is no separation in either overall or division record, the third division-lead tiebreaker must be applied. That’s the teams’ record in common games.

In 2023, outside of the NFC East, both Dallas and Philadelphia also played the entire NFC West and AFC East. That’s the eight-game slate out of the division to examine to see who has the edge.

The Cowboys went 2-2 against the 49ers, Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals. The Eagles, after being upset by the Cardinals at home in Week 17, also finished 2-2 vs. that group. 

Now it comes down the record vs. AFC East teams. The Cowboys went 2-2 against the Bills, Patriots, Dolphins and Jets. The Eagles also went 2-2 vs. that group.

So the next tiebreaker is a lot simpler than that: conference record: The Cowboys are 8-3 in NFC play. The Eagles are 7-4, giving the Cowboys the edge.

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