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NFC Playoff History Suggests Cowboys or Eagles Will Get Upset Win

Jess Haynie

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How Much Could Rest Disadvantage Affect Cowboys-Rams Game?

Either the Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles getting a win this week in the Divisional Round would be considered an upset. The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints were clearly the top two teams in the conference this year. But if the last 20 years of NFC playoff history mean anything, data suggests that an upset shouldn't come as any surprise.

From 1998-2017, only 11 times have the top two seeds in the NFC met in the Conference Championship game. There have been nine seasons when one of the lower seeds has advanced; 45% of the time.

However, out of those same 20 seasons, only once have both top seeds not advanced.

So, the odds are pretty good for one of Dallas or Philadelphia to win their road game this week. But the chances of both winning and then creating an all-NFC East conference title game are slim.

You may be surprised that the top two seeds haven't advanced more often, but that is one of the controversial issues with the first-round bye. Some coaches would probably prefer not to get it, not wanting to risk losing momentum going into the tournament.

Also, January football rarely features weak teams. There are those occasions when a weak division produces a weak champion, but generally all playoff teams are competitive.

Zack Martin, Eagles

Cowboys G Zack Martin and Eagles DT Fletcher Cox

Some might have accused the NFC East of being a weak division in 2018 but last week proved otherwise. Philadelphia knocked out the NFC North Champion and Dallas eliminated the wild card Seattle Seahawks, who many felt was the better team going in.

In the regular season, the Cowboys had one of the biggest upsets of 2018 with their Week 13 victory over top-seeded New Orleans. And just a few weeks ago, the Eagles got a road win over Los Angeles.

Clearly, the Rams and Saints have no business underestimating the NFC East.


Not only do Dallas and Philadelphia enter this weekend with momentum but the matchups worked out in their favor. Winning rematches against the Saints and Rams would have been tough.

Dallas gets a Rams team they haven't seen at all this year. The Eagles did get blown out by the Saints in Week 11, but that was before Nick Foles came in and put them on their current run.

Going back to the historical precedents, it would also appear that we're due for a top seed to lose.

Last season, the Eagles and Minnesota Vikings were the top two seeds in the NFC. Both won their Divisional Round games and met the next week, and we know how things unfolded from there.

During this 20 year history, though, a top seed has generally lost every other season. It hasn't happened since 2016, so the data suggests that an upset is due to happen this year.

The real question may be who gets that win; the Cowboys or the Eagles?

Of course, the Rams and Saints got where they are today for a reason. Both have been exceptional this year and will be rightly favored in this week's games.

But as we've seen, there is plenty to support the belief that one of Dallas or Philadelphia will win and get to the NFC Championship game.

I know who I'll be rooting for.


Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Game Notes

Taco Charlton Isn’t Going Anywhere After Strong Preseason Week 3

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton 1

Dallas Cowboys Defensive End Taco Charlton might be turning things around. The former first round draft pick didn't have a great couple of seasons to start his career off, which forced him to be in a battle to earn a spot on the Cowboys 53-man roster this offseason. Three weeks into the preseason, it looks like he's a lock to make the team. In a "Dress Rehearsal" game that went great for the Cowboys, Charlton's performance was among the best players.

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed how the Cowboys' younger defensive ends could force the team to move on from Taco. From Dorance Armstrong to Jalen Jelks, there's a handful of promising players that were participating in a positional battle that one way or another, included Taco Charlton.

However, the Michigan product showed up to play versus the Los Angeles Rams with two passes batted down. Despite making such plays, we still hadn't seen much from him in the pass rush department.

Taco Charlton

That changed against the Houston Texans last Saturday when he managed to get two sacks (one strip-sack), two forced fumbles and a recovery. This was undoubtedly Taco's best game in his career. He still has a lot to prove, but it was definitely good to see him have a "breakout" preseason game.


With such performance, it doesn't seem like he'll be going anywhere in 2019. Charlton won't be a starter for this team, but he could become a very important rotational piece for Rod Marinelli's defense. He has a great opportunity to find playing time during the first two weeks of the season before Robert Quinn returns from suspension.

One unfortunate note was that in his best game yet, Taco went out injured twice (ankle). The first time he went back to the field to get some more but had to walk off the field for a second time. Hopefully, he's able to play next Thursday but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't after having a breakout game versus the Texans.

Taco Charlton still has a very long way to justify being a first-round pick, but his play against Houston was a start. It will be very interesting to see how he plays in the 2019 regular season. He'll have to fight for playing time and he'll have to make every snap count to turn his career around.

Tell me what you think about "Taco Charlton Isn’t Going Anywhere After Strong Preseason Week 3" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys’ Taryn Christion Gets Time at QB; More Coming?

Jess Haynie

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Taryn Christion

Last night was the first time we've seen Taryn Christion, the Dallas Cowboys' fourth quarterback on the current depth chart, actually playing the position in preseason. Could we see more of Christion at QB in this Thursday's finale, and at what point should Mike White be worried?

Signed just a few days before training camp began, Christion has been tried at running back, receiver, and various special teams units while the Cowboys were in Oxnard. But last week he started getting more time at quarterback, and last night's win over the Houston Texans saw him playing a few drives at QB to close the game out.

Sure, Taryn came in fourth behind White in the rotation. But that Dallas thought to give him reps in that game, the critical dress rehearsal game, is telling.

Jason Garrett doesn't get cute with rotations and playing time. He's old school, and there's meaning in every decision he makes about when and how guys get time in preseason.

Ironically, the decision came following Mike White's best preseason game this year. He went 6-of-9 for 56 yards and a touchdown, plus avoided any sacks or turnovers.


Rather than let White keep building on that, though, Dallas pulled him for Taryn Christion in the 4th quarter. It seemed as if the Cowboys were determined to get him some time at QB.

An even better showcase will come this Thursday night. The Cowboys host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final preseason game; we know Dak Prescott won't be playing, and the team may even protect Cooper Rush with limited time on the field.

Dallas likely intends to give Christion some significant playing time on Thursday. And to help make that easier, they played him last night to get some of those butterflies out of his system.

No, Taryn Christion probably isn't going to make the 53-man roster. Neither is Mike White, for that matter. It feels like the battle for the number-three QB is more about the practice squad now.

But whatever the case, the battle seems to be heating up. Dallas appears more invested in Christion now as a quarterback than at any other point since he arrived; some added intrigue for Thursday's final preseason game.


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Game Notes

HOU 0, DAL 34: Defense Dominates in Dress Rehearsal Game

Matthew Lenix

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HOU 0, DAL 34: Defense Dominates in Dress Rehearsal Game 1

The Dallas Cowboys couldn't have scripted a better result in tonight's dress rehearsal game against the Houston Texans. All three phases of the game made big plays as they dominated 34 to 0.

The night belonged to the defense as they terrorized Houston's starters and reserves along the offensive line with 8 sacks. Taco Charlton, a former first-round pick turned outcast was the star of the night with 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In my opinion, if there were any doubts about him making the roster he put them to bed tonight.

Kerry Hyder showed once again why he's one of the smartest free-agent signings of 2019. After being a lost man in the 3-4 defensive scheme with his former team the Lions, he's done a really good job applying pressure even though he hadn't recorded any sacks in the first two preseason games. However, tonight he recorded 2 sacks and reminded everyone of the player who had 8 sacks in 2016.

The young guys weren't to be left out in this defensive clinic. Dorance Armstrong, Trysten Hill, Daniel Wise, and Joe Jackson all had half sacks. Rookie Safety Donovan Wilson had one of the plays of the night with a beautiful interception as he tapped both feet before heading out of bounds. Cornerback C.J. Goodwin, who will probably make the roster on his special teams ability, got in on the interception party himself high pointing a contested pass.

Dak Prescott was only 2 for 5 (11 for 14 in the preseason) but managed to escape what looked like a sure sack and roll to his left and threw a rope to Michael Gallup for a touchdown. The two have shown a lot of growth and chemistry during training camp, something that was missing at times in 2018.


Wide Receiver Devin Smith had 6 receptions for 79 yards while Cedrick Wilson snagged 3 passes on 4 targets. Both receivers are fighting for the final roster spots in the receiver group which they'll have to continue to do next week against the Buccaneers.

Tight End Marcus Lucas had a very solid game with 4 catches for 50 yards. He will definitely be a player to watch in the final preseason game before final cuts are made. Cooper Rush went 15 for 25 and further solidified his position as the primary backup to Prescott. Mike White was also solid going 6 for 9 and tossing a touchdown.

Special teams got in on the action themselves when Linebacker Joe Thomas recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.

Now the Cowboys have only one more preseason game before the 2019 season begins. All that's left now is figuring out the last few roster spots and staying as healthy as possible. September 8th is right around the corner.


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