National Football League

Moral Victory?

November 2

The Philadelphia Eagles scored a clumsy 23-9 victory against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, giving Philly a feeble grip on the NFC East title at 3-4-1 after eight weeks of play.

At 2-6, Dallas dropped to third in the division standings, with Washington in second at 2-5 and the 1-6 New York Giants in last, albeit with a Monday night matchup against Tampa Bay still yet to factor into their record.

Sunday's clash between the Eagles and Cowboys featured a combined six turnovers ⁠from the game's two starting quarterbacks. Neither Carson Wentz nor Ben DiNucci cracked the 200-yard mark passing, and both posted below-average passer ratings of 61.2 and 64.6, respectively. 

Still, given the grim state of the NFC East, Skip Bayless woke up feeling "dangerously delusional" about Dallas' prospects, despite all of its woes.

"Would you believe I just got a moral victory? ... I actually think my team should be favored right now to win the East, because the more I think about the Philadelphia Eagles, the sorrier they get. Last night, my team should have won the game with a seventh-round rookie whose initials are B.A.D. ⁠— Benjamin Anthony DiNucci."

Bayless doubled down, saying he saw "signs of life" from Dallas' much-maligned defense, which came into the game with just three takeaways on the season.

They doubled that total and then some, with two strip-sacks and two interceptions against Wentz.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy praised his defense after the loss, too, saying, "Clearly, our defense took a huge step," via DallasCowboys.com.

The 23 points that the Dallas defense allowed on Sunday are the fewest its given up since a 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1. 

Perhaps nobody exemplified Dallas' newfound defensive resiliency than rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs, who twice picked off Wentz after the Eagles appeared to target him early. 

"That's the beauty of the position," said Diggs. "We're all professionals. They're going to catch some passes, you've just gotta respond and keep competing throughout the whole game. From a team aspect, we compete. I'll go to war with these guys any day. I love these guys to death. We fight, we fight hard. We're all in this together."

Shannon Sharpe sees the NFC East as a three-team race between the Eagles, Cowboys and Washington, though thoroughbreds aren't exactly running to the finish line. 

"Six wins will probably win this division ... Someone's going to win this bad division, but let me tell you what: If you think Washington, the football team, is out of this, you're sadly mistaken ... This is a three-team race. As bad is it may sound, Skip, the Cowboys are not out of it. As much as I wish they were."

Another source of hope for the Cowboys could come from what ESPN's Ryan Clark describes as two very different quarterback/team relationships, today and in the future.

"When you look at these two teams, the relationships between their quarterbacks are totally different. The relationship between Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles is a very toxic relationship ... But on the other side, you've got your lifer [in Dak Prescott]. On the other side, you've got the one that you need to marry."

While Clark sees the Cowboys as sitting pretty with Dak Prescott, they'll have to wait until he's fully recovered from a season-ending injury to get him back on the field. 

Andy Dalton should presumably recover from a concussion suffered in Week 7, relegating DiNucci back to the bench as the NFC East race continues.

Could Dalton's return and a relatively decent Cowboys defensive effort be enough to push Dallas to the NFC East crown? 

As of Monday morning, FOX Bet's insights still favor Philly to win the division at -275, with Washington at +400, Dallas at +800 and New York bringing up the rear at +1400.

However, If the NFC East has shown us anything through eight weeks, it's that nothing is how it should be in this division.


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