Updated NFC playoff picture before Week 9: Cowboys surge past hated 49ers

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

A lot has changed since the Dallas Cowboys were dismantled by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5. The loss dropped the Cowboys to 3-2 and in the middle of the NFC playoff picture.

Since then, though, Dallas has rattled off two straight wins, including a convincing 43-20 thrashing of the LA Rams last week that once again reminded fans that this team belongs in the Super Bowl conversation, even if they're not the favorites.

Beyond the Cowboys riding a hot streak, the once-mighty 49ers have lost three in a throw and quarterback Brock Purdy has (finally) started to regress. Even more alarming is that San Francisco's defense has showed signs of vulnerability after it looked like the best in the NFL over the first five games.

But was the 49ers' loss to the Bengals enough to allow the Cowboys to gain ground in the NFC playoff picture? Let's take a look at the standings before Dallas' mammoth Week 9 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

NFC playoff picture: Cowboys make another jump before Week 9

1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)
2. Detroit Lions (6-2)
3. Seattle Seahawks (5-2)
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
5. Dallas Cowboys (5-2)
6. San Francisco 49ers (5-3)
7. Minnesota Vikings (4-4)

In the hunt: New Orleans Saints (4-4), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4), Los Angeles Rams (3-5), Washington Commanders (3-5)

If the playoffs ended today, the Cowboys would face the 4-4 Falcons on the road. Of all the teams currently in the playoff picture, that's probably the one that Dallas would hand-pick to play in the first round. That's where San Francisco's surprising three-game kid comes into play, as they would face the Seahawks.

Of course, they Cowboys have bigger fish to fry (or dragons to slay), like supplanting the Eagles atop the conference.

With a win over Philly on Sunday, the Cowboys would pull a half-game behind their arch rivals with another matchup vs them at home. Lose, though, and they'd fall a distant two games behind the Eagles while dropping another game in-conference.

In terms of inner-conference records, the Cowboys' 2-2 mark is the worst of every current NFC playoff team, including the No. 7 seed Vikings.

There's time for that to change, though, as Dallas still has four games left against the Giants, Commanders and one-win Panthers.

Things look good for the Cowboys entering Week 9. If they beat the Eagles, the No. 1 seed suddenly becomes extremely realistic.

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