By Tom Dougherty


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just about everything went wrong for the Philadelphia Eagles before the bye week; everything went right for them during it. The Birds, without even playing, came away from Sunday’s NFL action big winners.

The Minnesota Vikings, without one of their top wide receivers, took down the Dallas Cowboys, 28-24, at AT&T Stadium. The loss moves the Birds and Cowboys, both 5-4, into a first-place tie in the NFC East.

Dallas holds the tiebreaker since the Cowboys beat the Eagles on Oct. 20. The Eagles and Cowboys will meet again on Dec. 22 at the Linc.

As the schedule eases up for the Eagles after the next two weeks, it only gets more difficult for the Cowboys.

The Eagles host the 8-1 New England Patriots next Sunday and then the 7-2 Seattle Seahawks. The Birds will rightfully be massive underdogs for the next two weeks. They always seem to play better when counted out, so that may be a good thing.

But if the Eagles can steal one of their next two games, the path to an NFC East championship is an easy one. Even if they lose both, it’s still plausible.

After the Seahawks game on Nov. 24, the Eagles face the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants twice, Washington and the Cowboys. The combined records of the Dolphins, Giants and Washington are 5-23. On paper, that’s a cakewalk.

For the Cowboys, things only get tougher from here.

Dallas has matchups against the Detroit Lions, Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Eagles and Washington left. Take the Eagles out of the equation, and the combined records of the Cowboys’ remaining opponents are 27-26-1. Take away Washington, and it’s 26-18-1.

The Cowboys are in Detroit next week and if Matthew Stafford is unable to play again, that game will be a lot easier than it would have been. Regardless, the Patriots, Bills and Rams games all, on paper, will be much tougher tests.

Ultimately, the Birds will have to take care of their own business. They can ill afford to lose against the Dolphins, Giants and Washington — drop any of those games and this all could be for nothing.

Even if the Eagles lose to both the Patriots and Seahawks, the chips are still lining up. Dallas heads to New England in two weeks. The Pats haven’t lost at home in the regular season since Oct. 1, 2017. If the Eagles handle their business, they’d need just one more loss from the Cowboys for everything to fall into place.

It’s all adding up for the division to be on the line at the Linc in Week 16, three days before Christmas.

That’s a long way away, and plenty can still go wrong, but the Eagles didn’t play Sunday — yet it felt like their biggest win of the season.

Buckle up, the Eagles are still very much in this.