It may be time to start out taking the Dallas Cowboys significantly as Tremendous Bowl contenders.

As a result of they’ve by no means seemed higher in the Dak Prescott period, and their quarterback’s by no means performed higher.

The knock that’s trailed the Cowboys all through this season — their lack of a signature victory over a legit contender — was silenced fairly convincingly Sunday night time. Dallas whupped the Philadelphia Eagles 33-13 in a sport the Cowboys had been in management of from the beginning.

Meaning there’s a three-team tie atop the NFC, with the 49ers, Cowboys and Eagles all 10-3. San Francisco owns tiebreakers over each attributable to head-to-head victories this season, and the Cowboys’ 4-1 division report provides them a slight edge over the Eagles, who’re 3-1 in the NFC East. However with 4 video games to play, loads can change.

Dallas has gained 15 straight at dwelling and owns a 171-point differential over opponents at AT&T Stadium this season. The greatest cause? Prescott. He furthered his MVP candidacy Sunday with a 271-yard, two-touchdown, no-pick efficiency, and the protection compelled Philly into three turnovers, by no means permitting Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense to get in sync.

Prescott’s final seven video games: 22 touchdowns and simply two interceptions. And a 6-1 report.

In Kansas Metropolis earlier Sunday, a Kadarius Toney penalty — he lined up offsides earlier than a pivotal fourth-quarter snap — value the Chiefs the play of the yr, permitting the Payments to flee with a much-needed 20-17 win that retains their playoff hopes alive. Patrick Mahomes was irate after the loss, screaming and slamming his helmet on the sideline, then venting in his postgame information convention.

Immediately, improbably, the defending Tremendous Bowl champs have dropped three of 4, and Mahomes faces the possible prospect of enjoying the primary highway playoff sport of his profession come January.

On a rain-soaked afternoon in Baltimore, Lamar Jackson thrilled the house crowd with a 13-play landing drive late, then Tylan Wallace — returning the primary punt of his regular-season profession — added the exclamation level in time beyond regulation, taking again a Rams’ punt for a 76-yard, walk-off rating.

With the 37-31 victory, the Ravens are the AFC’s first workforce to 10 wins, although the Dolphins (9-3) can match them Monday night time, after they host the Titans. With Kansas Metropolis and Jacksonville dropping Sunday, it’s trying like the highest seed — and the coveted first-round bye — will come right down to Baltimore or Miami.

In Cleveland, Joe Flacco proved he’s right here to remain — a minimum of for the remainder of the season, main the Browns to an upset of the Jaguars.

In Los Angeles, the Chargers’ fourth loss in 5 video games was additional dampened by the information that franchise quarterback Justin Herbert fractured his proper index finger. His season might be accomplished; the Chargers’ playoff hopes already are.

In Las Vegas, the Vikings managed simply a measly subject purpose — and that was nonetheless sufficient to beat the Raiders, who misplaced their third straight. It was the NFL’s first 3-0 sport since 2007.

In San Francisco, Brock Purdy and the 49ers notched their second five-game successful streak of the season, beating the Seahawks for the second time in three weeks.

In Cincinnati, Jake Browning gained his second begin in six days, main the resurgent Bengals to a 20-point win over the Colts.

In New York, Zach Wilson shook off a tumultuous week and performed his greatest sport of the season in a 30-6 rout of the Texans. The loss snapped the Jets’ three-game dropping streak, and for Houston, the fear rests with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who left in the fourth quarter after slamming his head in opposition to the turf and is now in the concussion protocol.

In the meantime, trigger for concern in Detroit? The Lions haven’t seemed proper in weeks, and suffered their second loss in three video games Sunday in Chicago, falling to the lowly Bears 28-13. At 9-4, Dan Campbell’s workforce continues to be in entrance in the NFC North, however the Lions are usually not enjoying something near their greatest soccer.

Right here’s what stood out from Sunday of  NFL Week 14:

Cowboys have their signature win

For Dallas, this one was about more than the standings.

In a lot of the way, the Cowboys wanted a win like this, one over a respectable Tremendous Bowl contender, the very sort of victory that’s been lacking from their in any other case spectacular résumé all season.

They had been routed in San Francisco in Week 5, then got here up brief in Philadelphia in Week 9. In between, for probably the most half: blowout victories over struggling groups.

Beat up on pretenders all they need, usually by staggering margins, and the knock was going to hold round till they did one thing about it. Dallas didn’t have a signature win, not but a minimum of, that instructed you the Cowboys had been able to do one thing totally different come January — and make a playoff run. Not since 1996 has Dallas superior to the NFC Championship Recreation.

Sunday night time’s 33-13 win spoke to a workforce hitting its stride on the proper time. Dallas has gained 5 straight and, together with the 49ers, is among the many most well-balanced groups in soccer on either side of the ball.

The Eagles, in the meantime, have dropped two straight by a mixed 43 factors after successful 9 of their first 10. Philly’s bid to earn the highest seed once more — and the first-round bye — simply received a entire lot more durable, and one thing about the best way the Eagles have performed the final two weeks makes you are worried about their postseason probabilities. At this level, they don’t have the momentum they did a yr in the past presently. The subsequent month might be about rediscovering that.

The excellent news for the Eagles, although, is their closing stretch appears to be like much less formidable than what the Cowboys will see. Philly closes with the Seahawks, Cardinals and Giants twice. Dallas will end with the Payments, Dolphins, Lions and Commanders.

Toney prices the Chiefs; Payments’ playoff hopes nonetheless alive

Whereas the Chiefs had been furious after the loss — notably coach Andy Reid and Mahomes — that the referees didn’t warn Toney he was offsides earlier than the sport’s greatest snap, the decision was the proper one. It erased a wild play that noticed Travis Kelce snare a 25-yard move from Mahomes, then lateral it to Toney, who ran the ultimate 24 yards for a landing that might’ve put the Chiefs in entrance 23-20 with 1:25 left.

Irrespective of. Toney was a minimum of a full yard offsides. The flag was thrown. Mahomes threw three straight incompletions afterward and the Payments sealed the 20-17 win.

The Chiefs’ frustrations appear to be bubbling over — at their very own inconsistent play of late, plus some awful officiating. Mahomes was beside himself on the sideline as the sport ended, slamming his helmet, shouting on the officers. He then vented in a approach he not often does in his postgame information convention.

“Another game we’re talking about the refs,” Mahomes mentioned. “It’s not what we want for the NFL. It’s not what we want for football. Let us play the game. Then whatever happens happens.”

“It’s a bit embarrassing for the National Football League for that to take place,” added Reid, who famous that the officers often warn him when considered one of his receivers has lined up in the impartial zone.

Kansas Metropolis now has dropped three of its final 4 and misplaced two straight for the primary time since early in the 2021 season. At 8-4, the Chiefs are simply a sport in entrance of the surging Broncos, who began the season 1-5 however have gained six of seven since.

For the Payments, this win would possibly’ve saved their season. Buffalo is now 7-6 and very a lot in the thick of a crowded AFC wild-card race.

“We got your back!” gamers shouted in a victorious postgame locker room at coach Sean McDermott, a nod to a chaotic week in Buffalo that noticed McDermott handle a report about feedback he made in reference to the 9/11 terrorists throughout a 2019 workforce assembly.

All instructed, six AFC groups are 7-6 in the mean time: Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Houston, Denver, Cincinnati and Buffalo.

Flacco provides the Browns new hope

It’s one factor to maintain a season afloat with a backup quarterback.

It’s one thing else totally to do it whenever you’re in your fourth QB by mid-December.

Give Kevin Stefanski credit score: It’s been a turbulent season in Cleveland — 4 quarterbacks have now began a minimum of two video games for the Browns — and but his workforce is 8-5 and main the AFC wild-card race.

Whereas Houston’s DeMeco Ryans and Detroit’s Campbell have garnered loads of Coach of the 12 months consideration — rightfully so — Stefanski has quietly accomplished a terrific job in Cleveland, protecting the Browns aggressive regardless of fixed turnover on the sport’s most important place.

It’s 38-year-old Flacco, signed off the road simply three weeks in the past, who has revived the workforce’s hopes with a month left in the common season. “I know I can still play,” the previous Raven, Bronco and Jet mentioned final month. On Sunday he proved it, throwing for 311 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-27 win over the Jaguars, his second begin for the Browns.

“Coming up with words on how this feels? I’m not gonna do a good job of that,” Flacco mentioned. “There are so many different things that are running through my head. It’s unbelievable to (still) be out there … I’m going to remember these things forever.”

After the sport, Stefanski introduced Flacco can be the workforce’s starter the remainder of the best way. From Deshaun Watson (out for the yr with a fracture in his throwing shoulder) to P.J. Walker (who’s since been launched) to Dorian Thompson-Robinson (who stays the backup), the Browns preserve discovering a approach, usually successful the shut ones. Up to now, they’re 5-2 in one-score video games.

Flacco’s arrival, and steadying veteran presence, has been a much-needed addition for a workforce already boasting an elite protection. The Browns turned the Jaguars over 4 occasions in Sunday’s win and rank first in yards allowed this season.

Bucs leap in entrance in NFC South

By definition, somebody has to win the NFC South — whether or not that workforce is above .500 or not.

With 4 weeks to go it’s a three-team race, and every is now 6-7: the Falcons, Saints and Bucs.

Certainly one of them will host a playoff sport come January.

Tampa Bay’s hopes for a third straight division crown, the final two coming with Tom Brady at quarterback, received a large enhance Sunday after Baker Mayfield led a 12-play, 70-yard drive late in the fourth to ship a 29-25 win over the Falcons. Mayfield lofted a great thing about a throw with 34 seconds left that tight finish Cade Otton hauled in for the 11-yard, game-winning rating.

Technically, the Bucs personal the tiebreaker in the mean time. They’re 3-1 in division video games — similar because the Falcons — however are 4-2 in opposition to frequent opponents, whereas Atlanta is 3-3 (the 2 groups cut up their head-to-head conferences this season). In the meantime, the Saints climbed to 2-2 in the division with a 28-6 win over the Panthers Sunday, who’re a league-worst 1-12.

An 0-3 day for the AFC South

It was a dreadful Sunday for AFC South groups: the division-leading Jaguars fell in Cleveland with quarterback Trevor Lawrence gutting by an ankle damage, the Colts had been routed in Cincinnati and the Texans had been pummeled by the Jets.

Jacksonville stays out entrance at 8-5 with a 4-1 division report. Each Indianapolis and Houston at the moment are 7-6, with the Colts at present holding the tiebreaker over the Texans by advantage of their head-to-head victory in Week 2. They may meet once more in Week 18 in Indianapolis.

However the chief concern for the Texans in the mean time is the standing of Stroud, who left Sunday’s loss in the fourth quarter after his helmet slammed the turf at MetLife Stadium following a hit from Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. Stroud is at present in concussion protocol; the Texans are in Tennessee on Sunday.


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(Prime photograph: Kevin Sabitus / Getty Pictures)

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