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Eagles, Cowboys no stranger to Week 17 play-in games

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The Philadelphia Eagles have a winner take all Week 17 game with the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 29. While an Eagles-Cowboys grand finale wasn't expected eight weeks ago, it isn't exactly a novelty. In fact, this is the third time since 2008 that Philadelphia and Dallas have had a finale with everything on the line -- although the Eagles want this one to go more like 2008.

2008 was the last time the Eagles made a sudden second half run at a playoff spot. It culminated in a final home game against the Cowboys, right after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were upset to give the Eagles a shot at a playoff berth. Not only did they win, they throttled the Cowboys by 44-6 -- which triggered an NFC title game run and part of the ending of Silver Linings Playbook.

That game put Philadelphia in and knocked Dallas out, but things were different a year later. The Eagles were red hot going into a Week 17 visit to Dallas for the NFC East crown, yet they hit a massive speed bump. Not only were they blown out by the Cowboys in the regular season finale this time, they were blown out again in the wild card rematch a week later.

Those two ugly defeats were the high point of Tony Romo's career, as well as the bitter end of Donovan McNabb's tenure in Philadelphia. For all intents, it was the next step towards the end of the Andy Reid era as well. Now four years later, the start of the Chip Kelly era will be defined by another divisional title game in Dallas during Week 17.

The 2009 Eagles already had a playoff berth secured before playing the Cowboys, unlike in 2008 and 2013. In addition, these Cowboys will not be led by Romo, making them the home underdog. If Dallas makes it a close game with Kyle Orton at quarterback, it will be a surprise -- and instantly make this game far more thrilling than the 2008 and 2009 finales ever were.

The Eagles had fun rolling into the playoffs at the Cowboys' expense in 2008, only to get paid back twice over a year later. If history means anything, their grand finale this year won't be close either -- but will this rubber match be as easy for Philadelphia as it now looks?


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