NFL tiebreaker scenarios for Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC East

What happens if the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys finish the season tied atop the NFC East? Let's take a look at the NFL tiebreaker scenarios.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Coming into the 2023 NFL season, it's safe to say most predicted the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys would engage in a hard-fought battle for the NFC East crown. And with the campaign quickly coming to a close, that's precisely what we've got.

Not long ago, however, it seemed the Eagles might run away with the division. With a 28-23 win over the Cowboys in Week 9, Jalen Hurts & Co. improved to 8-1 and held a significant lead in the standings over America's Team, who dropped to 5-3 with the loss.

But things have changed since then.

Despite taking a hit as it pertains to the conference with a 42-19 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13, the Eagles could have essentially wrapped up the NFC East in their rematch with Dallas in Week 14.

But the Cowboys, who won four straight following the defeat to Philly, had other plans. Behind yet another strong performance from NFL MVP favorite Dak Prescott, America's Team cruised to a 33-13 victory.

While both teams now own identical 10-3 records, it's the Cowboys who find themselves in first place. However, if both teams win out, which will be far easier for Philadelphia to do than Dallas, the Eagles would win the NFC East for the second straight season.

But how? Let's have a look.

NFL tiebreaker scenarios for the Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC East

NFL Tiebreaker No. 1: Head-to-head

The first NFL tiebreaker to decide a division winner between two clubs is head-to-head record. As Philadelphia and Dallas split their two games, that's no longer a factor.

NFL Tiebreaker No. 2: Record within the division

The second tiebreaker is the best record within the division, which is why the Cowboys are technically in first place at the moment. Dallas, who's played one more game against NFC East opponents, is 4-1 while Philly is 3-1. The best each can finish, of course, is 5-1.

If the Cowboys and Eagles finish with the same overall record and the same record within the division, the next tiebreaker is the best record against common opponents.

NFL Tiebreaker No. 3: Record against common opponents

Over the final four weeks, the Eagles face the Seahawks, Giants, Cardinals, and then the Giants again, giving them the easiest schedule in the entire league based on opponents' winning percentage.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, have the 12th-toughest remaining slate with games against the Bills, Dolphins, Lions, and Commanders.

With that said, once Week 18 is in the books, Philadelphia and Dallas will have played 12 common opponents: Giants (twice), Commanders (twice), Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks.

If both teams win out, each will own a 14-3 overall record and a 10-2 record against common opponents, meaning we move to the next NFL tiebreaker procedure.

NFL Tiebreaker No. 4: Record within the conference

The fourth tiebreaker to decide a division is record within the conference. And it's here where the Eagles could overtake the Cowboys in the NFC East.

If both teams win out, Philadelphia would own a 10-2 record against NFC opponents (losses to 49ers, Cowboys), while Dallas would be 9-3 (losses to Cardinals, 49ers, Eagles). The Eagles' first loss came to an AFC opponent, the New York Jets.

So, again, this is the tiebreaker that would win the Eagles the division if both teams win out.

Remaining NFL tiebreakers

If, by chance, the Eagles and Cowboys need additional tiebreakers, here's a quick look at the remaining scenarios per

  • Strength of victory in all games.
  • Strength of schedule in all games.
  • Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed in all games
  • Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games
  • Best net points in common games
  • Best net points in all games
  • Best net touchdowns in all games
  • Coin toss

There's a chance, of course, that none of these 12 tiebreakers come into play at all, as either team could drop a game or two over the next few weeks.

Given the schedule, that seems a bit more likely for the Cowboys than the Eagles, but given how the season as a whole has played out thus far, nothing can be ruled out at this point.

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