From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
Stop the presses and hold the mail for awhile because the winner of the NFC East Division title between the Cowboys and the Eagles will sport at least a .500 record when the NFL regular season ends Dec. 29.
That’s the good news since the division has been in shambles over the past month because both the Cowboys (7-7) and Eagles (7-7) have consistently tripped over themselves, finding ways to lose games to superior and inferior foes.
The crystal ball becomes much more clearer by early Sunday evening after the Eagles are done hosting the Cowboys. Dallas already won the first meeting at home and, if it sweeps Philadelphia on Sunday, it wins the NFC Least regardless of what happens in Week 17. The regular-season finales that weekend include the Cowboys hosting the Redskins (3-11) and the Eagles playing at the Giants (3-11).
The Cowboys and Eagles both got to .500 after Sunday’s wins over the Rams and Redskins, respectively, restoring some “respectability” to the maligned division.
Dallas perhaps has the best roster in NFL from Nos. 1 to 53, but seems to find a way to shoot itself in the foot, coughing up the ball at the wrong time and blundering on special teams.
The Cowboys, who rank No. 1 in the league in total offense, passing offense and third-down efficiency, played their best game of the season Sunday, routing the Rams, 44-21. The Cowboys gained 263 of their total 475 yards on the ground, including a pair of 100-yard rushers. Dallas snapped a three-game skid.
It has been 24 years since Dallas last won a Super Bowl, and the Cowboys are 3-9 in playoff games since.
Ravaged by injuries, especially at wide receiver, the Eagles rallied for a 37-27 victory over the Redskins, thanks to QB Carson Wentz’s 266 passing yards and three touchdowns. It was only the Eagles’ second win in five games.
The last time the NFC Least was in utter turmoil was in 2015, when the Redskins stole the division title at 9-7.
No matter who wins the NFC Least this season, Dallas or Philly, it will be a decisive home underdog against either the Seahawks or 49ers in the NFC wild-card playoff round.
The Cowboys have won four straight meetings and 10 of the past 15 since 2012 against the Eagles, who have a history of failing to contain Cowboys All-Pro RB Ezekiel Elliott.
The last time a division winner finished with a losing record was Carolina at 7-8-1 in 2014. And remember the 2010 NFC West race when division winner Seattle (7-9) beat defending Super Bowl champ New Orleans in the playoffs.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com