Before the afternoon kickoffs of week eight, the NFC East standings through the Cowboys bye week were to be set with the Eagles playing in London and the Redskins and Giants meeting at MetLife Stadium for an early game.
Learning only that the Giants played themselves further out of contention, the 3-4 Cowboys are left watching the Eagles improve to 4-4 with a 24-18 win over the Jaguars while the Redskins won their third straight 20-13. Washington leads the division at 5-2 and 2-0 within the East, their last two wins coming against Dallas and New York.
Still over a week out from their next game against the Titans, the Cowboys latest loss at the Redskins remains costly as the Redskins build their case as favorites in the division. After holding Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards and sacking Dak Prescott four times, the Redskins handed the Giants their seventh loss by bottling up Saquon Barkley (38 yards) and sacking Eli Manning seven times.
Adrian Peterson followed up his 99 yard performance on 24 carries against the Cowboys with 26 more rushes for 149 yards and a touchdown.
The Redskins will return to divisional play on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Until then, they'll have a chance to improve their record at home against the Falcons (3-4), at the Buccaneers (3-4), and against the Texans (5-3).
The Cowboys had an opportunity to take the NFC East lead last week.
If Washington beats the Giants tomorrow and the Falcons next week, Dallas will enter their very next game trailing the Redskins by 2.5 games.
Meanwhile, it feels like a mere footnote that the defending Super Bowl champions remain in contention for the NFC East title. Their win across the pond against the Jaguars didn't come as easily as the Cowboys 40-7 drubbing of Jacksonville, but was more than enough to send them home to a week off before hosting the Cowboys.
Regardless of what the Cowboys do in their next game on Monday Night Football, they'll still be in search of their first road win in Philadelphia the following week.
Eternal optimists will see a clear path for the Cowboys to play their way back into the division race, making an aggressive play for Amari Cooper during the bye to jump-start the offense. Pessimists, and perhaps realists, can spend the better part of this Sunday watching game with no NFC East implications – resided to the fact that the Cowboys alternating of wins and losses through their last ten contests will not be enough in 2018.
The Redskins were easily the most impressive team in the division today, and a team the Cowboys were a few plays away from defeating on the road, with a win against the Giants already under their belt and both match ups with the Eagles to come.