FRISCO, Texas — Though the Dallas Cowboys clinched a playoff spot after their additional time loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15, Mike McCarthy was fixated on 11 wins.
To the coach, 11 wins establishes a staff as a legit contender, whether or not as a division winner or as a wild card.
“I think our place is clear,” McCarthy mentioned after the Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 40-34 at AT&T Stadium on Christmas Eve to enhance to 11-4.
With two regular-season video games remaining, the Cowboys might be no worse than the fifth seed within the NFC. In the event that they win their final two video games and the Eagles lose their final two, the Cowboys would repeat as NFC East champions, and they might declare the No. 1 seed if the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers each lose one in all their ultimate two video games.
QB Dak Prescott isn’t anxious a couple of division title in the mean time.
“I mean, we don’t necessarily control it, so for me it’s about worrying about what we can control,” he mentioned. “That’s building momentum, stacking games on top of games, getting the confidence, getting everything we need to move forward that we feel like we’re hitting this stride as we hit the playoffs.
“Hey, if they go and help us out and drop a couple of games, hell yeah, we’re going to take the title. That’s awesome. But we have no say-so in that at this point. All we can do is continue to win out and hope on that. And I’m not a guy that hopes on a lot of failure. Obviously I want the title and that would be great, but that’s just getting into distractions that don’t pay us anything forward.”
As a result of the Cowboys play Thursday (8:15 p.m. ET, Prime Video) in opposition to the reeling Tennessee Titans, they haven’t any selection however to play to win. Think about shedding to the Titans after which seeing the Eagles lose to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday? They’d kick themselves at lacking out on a possibility to turn into the primary NFC East staff to repeat as division champion for the reason that 2003-04 Eagles.
If the Eagles beat the Saints on Sunday, doubtlessly the Cowboys may method their ultimate sport in opposition to the Washington Commanders with the playoffs in thoughts. Since they might be locked into the No. 5 spot, well being concerns may trump a possible twelfth or thirteenth win.
“It’s already playoff football at this point,” Prescott mentioned.
When the Cowboys misplaced in additional time on Nov. 13 on the Inexperienced Bay Packers, McCarthy mentioned that was the kind of sport that might serve his staff effectively within the playoffs. Shut sport. Every play mattered.
Having overwhelmed Philadelphia, the NFL’s greatest staff in the mean time, by overcoming two 10-point deficits and a third-and-30 when trailing by a landing halfway by the fourth quarter, will assist them much more.
“I feel like when you’re really on that fight with adversity and you can overcome and see yourself on the positive side, like we did, it’s good confidence for the team,” Professional Bowl defensive finish DeMarcus Lawrence mentioned. “Especially headed into the playoffs. So I feel like he’s totally right. These close games, it’s going to be like this down the wire, and we’ve got to make sure we’re coming out on top.”
The Cowboys have gained video games all kinds of how this season.
Simulate your individual eventualities and test the newest playoff image. Playoff Machine »
• Full schedule » | Standings » | Extra »
They gained 4 occasions with backup quarterback Cooper Rush whereas Prescott was out with a fractured thumb. They gained with a stifling protection. They gained with a dominating working sport. They gained on a last-second discipline purpose. They gained on a last-minute 98-yard drive. They gained with a 33-point fourth-quarter explosion. They posted probably the most lopsided street win in franchise historical past at Minnesota (40-3).
The Cowboys are the one staff within the league with three wins in opposition to groups with at the very least 11 wins (Eagles, Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals). In addition they have 5 wins in opposition to groups with at the very least eight wins. No different staff has greater than three.
A 3rd assembly in opposition to the Eagles, within the playoffs, can be one thing.
“I think both teams probably hope we see each other again because you know what that means,” McCarthy mentioned. “This was a game we wanted to get and felt like we had to have, more for ourselves.”
Which is why the win mattered extra to the Cowboys regardless that star quarterback Jalen Hurts did not play for the Eagles due to a shoulder harm.
“Very confident,” Prescott mentioned. “Yeah, I mean, obviously being the third time, splitting one and one, very confident. It’s something we’ve talked about throughout the week, that we’ve got to come out here and put our best foot forward, represent who we are.
“But at the same time, understand that this might be the first of two times here late in the year that we’re going to have to play these guys. I think that was a good win. It was a good win just for the team, a complementary win. I know, obviously, they’re going to think about that the next time we play them, and that’s what you want.”