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NFL Notebook: Somehow, Cowboys still in playoff race

Associated Press
The NFL notebook …
IRVING, Texas ó Cowboys coach Wade Phillips doesn’t gamble and doesn’t make predictions. He does, however, make observations based on 31 years of working in the NFL.
So as gloomy as things looked for his club’s playoff chances after losing to Baltimore on Saturday night, Phillips remained relatively cheery before Sunday’s games began. He didn’t know whether Tampa Bay or Atlanta would lose, but he was confident at least one of them would, opening a direct path for Dallas to make the playoffs.
Sure enough, the Buccaneers lost ó their first defeat at home all season, and to a San Diego team that was seemingly playing out its schedule. That brought into play another truism Phillips has been preaching the last two months.
“Ten wins,” he said. “It’s usually 10 wins that gets you in.”
Dallas indeed can clinch a wild card if it picks up victory No. 10 on Sunday in Philadelphia. Lose, and the Cowboys’ season is over.
“You can’t get any more motivated than that,” Phillips said Monday. “It’s something that’s right there.”
Because of the high stakes, the league announced Monday the game’s kickoff has been moved to 4:15 p.m. EST.
REDSKINS
The Redskins, who hadn’t beaten a team with a winning record since the first week in October, got an immeasurable psychological boost with their 10-3 triumph over the Eagles.
“Everybody can take a breath,” coach Jim Zorn said. “I think we’re all breathing in. Not too many people these last few games have been breathing out, so this is just an opportunity to breathe out.”
The rookie coach needed some sort of late-season accomplishment to reinforce his case that he’s worthy of returning next season, and now he has it. The Redskins (8-7) can clinch a winning season by beating San Francisco in next week’s finale, and they’ll finish .500 at worst.
In fact, a 9-7 record would keep the Redskins from finishing alone in last place in the NFC East and match last year’s mark under coach Joe Gibbs, although it wouldn’t erase the what-could-have-been feeling left over from this year’s 6-2 start.
CHIEFS
Even knowing now that Kansas City’s rebuilding program may cost him his job, Herm Edwards insists he would do it again.
“Because it was the right thing to do for the organization,” Edwards said Monday, one week after his future was thrown into doubt by the abrupt resignation of president and general manager Carl Peterson.
“I said that from the beginning,” Edwards said. “I said when you do something like this, you’re doing it for the right reasons. That was something I thought about, something we all thought about, and it was the correct thing to do.”
As owner Clark Hunt begins his search for a new general manager, the Chiefs (2-13) prepare to close out the worst season in franchise history on Sunday at Cincinnati.
BACON DIES
Coy Bacon, a fierce pass rusher during a 14-year NFL career with Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Washington, died Monday. He was 66.
Bacon played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1968-72, when he made the first of his three Pro Bowls.
CARDINALS
Nobody gets the day off for the Cardinals next Sunday, not with the sorry way this team is playing down the stretch.
The Cardinals are staggering toward the playoffs and with a loss to Seattle next weekend will finish the regular season 8-8, the same record they had last year.
BRONCOS
The already dinged-up backfield took two more hits as P.J. Pope (hamstring) and Selvin Young (neck) were added to the list of injured tailbacks.
EAGLES
Pass. Pass. Pass. Punt.
Four straight possessions saw the same result for the Eagles in a game they had to win to control their playoff hopes. Now they’ll need a lot of help to get an NFC wild-card berth.
Given the way they played against the Redskins with their season on the line, the Eagles (8-6-1) probably don’t deserve to advance.
JAGUARS
Jacksonville got an early start on revamping the offensive line, signing guard/center Trey Darilek and tackle Jordan Black.

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