How the Cowboys Can Clinch NFC East Title in Week 17

Cowboys QB Andy Dalton

Getty Cowboys QB Andy Dalton

Nineteen days ago, the Dallas Cowboys — then 3-9 — were left for dead after a bad loss to Baltimore, their playoff hopes all but dead.

Nineteen days later, the Cowboys — now 6-9 — are, incredibly, on the precipice of a division championship.

Dallas’ Week 16 victory over Philadelphia combined with Washington’s loss to Carolina set up a clear path to a home playoff game. Beat the Giants on the road in the regular-season finale and hope the Eagles take down Washington, and the NFC East crown returns to Frisco.

The Cowboys vanquished the Giants in Week 5, 37-34, in a game best remembered for quarterback Dak Prescott’s gruesome ankle injury. The Football Team defeated Philadelphia, 27-17, in the season opener.

As of this writing, the Cowboys — riding a three-game winning streak, their first since 2019 — have a 26% chance to capture the East, per FiveThirtyEight.com. Washington remains the clear favorite with 52% odds.

Washington, flexed to Sunday Night Football (7:20 p.m. CT), will know its fate hours before they kick off, as the Cowboys face New York at noon CT.

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Reaction to Win

This is what white-hot football looks like. Sunday’s stomping of the Eagles — the game wasn’t as close as the score makes it seem — was a season-saving victory for head coach Mike McCarthy and perhaps a job-saver for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, whose unit forced three turnovers, including two interceptions of impressive rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts.

“We looked totally different today than we did two months ago. That’s a credit to our players,” McCarthy said after the game, per The Athletic.

The offense, meanwhile, was effective if not explosive under QB Andy Dalton, who finished 22-of-30 for 377 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, logging a 134.7 passer rating. Dalton spawned a pair of 100-yard performances from receivers Michael Gallup (six catches, 121 yards, two TDs) and Amari Cooper (4-121), and a 52-yard highlight-reel score by rookie wideout CeeDee Lamb (3-65-1).

“It’s a long season and for sure we just had to push through some tough stretches we had this season,” Dalton said, per ESPN. “At the end of the day, you want to be playing your best ball in December, going into January. For us it seems like we’re doing that right now.”

The Cowboys experienced a duality they hadn’t since Prescott went down, with embattled running back Ezekiel Elliott producing 105 rushing yards on 19 carries (while understudy Tony Pollard was limited to 12 yards on nine totes). Consider Zeke’s critics silenced.

The offense collectively totaled 513 yards and 22 first downs on just 13 drives, controlling the clock for 30:38.

“If you gave up 5, 6 weeks ago, we don’t even want you on our side,” Elliott said, per The Athletic. “We’re a team of competitors.”

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McCarthy Responds to Moore Speculation

FootballScoop.com reported Saturday that Boise State is “targeting” Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore as their next head coach, a deal which could fall together in the “coming days.”

“Sources tell FootballScoop Boise State is targeting Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to become the next head coach of the Broncos,” the report stated. “Sources add that if Moore does choose to return to Boise, over remaining in the NFL, Boise would like to agree to terms in the coming days.”

The dot-connecting began in earnest when it was announced that BSU HC Bryan Harsin is defecting to Auburn. As of Wednesday, however, Moore and McCarthy hadn’t discussed the former’s potential departure as Harsin’s successor. On Sunday, McCarthy declined to speak on the matter.

I can only tell you that we think the world of Kellen. He’s done an incredible job here. We think the world of him,” he said, per The Athletic.


READ NEXT: Cowboys Exec to Become New Texans General Manager?

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL


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