Playoffs? You Bet

night at Cowboys Stadium, that being the Eagles.

Again . . . the first time in club history they must play back-to-back games against the same team.

And, uh, they failed the only other two times in club history when attempting to beat the same team three times in one season, obviously failing in 2007 to beat the Giants that third time in the playoffs and then in 1998, getting beat 20-7 at Texas Stadium by the Cardinals after spanking them 38-10 and 35-28 during the regular season.

"You stop and shut up when you realize you got to play Philadelphia (11-5) again," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, making sure no one is getting carried away wearing those NFC East Division championship hats.

But, it surely was hard for the Cowboys early Sunday evening to remain overly humble after dominating the Eagles about as bad as the Eagles dominated the Cowboys in last season's 44-6 embarrassment, this time the Cowboys grabbing the postgame plum (division title and home playoff game) the Eagles swiped last year in the season-ending, winner-earns-a-playoff-berth contest in Philly.

Just because they proved so much over the course of this 2009 season, like:

This indeed is a different team than last year's.

They had the stomach to handle final-month pressure, no matter who they had to play - or where.

Romo is an improved quarterback, continuing to "evolve" as he suggested was his goal.

They could win "big" games, and are we in agreement beating the Saints in New Orleans and the Eagles for the East title were big games?

Wade Phillips' way of coaching does work, meaning you don't have to rant and rave or undress your players in public to win games, although he deflected any notion he's taking this recent success personally.

You can succeed being the head coach and defensive coordinator at the same time.

These NFL seasons indeed should be judged after the 16th game, and for proof maybe you want to check with the Giants or Broncos or Falcons on that for veracity.

Just amazing to me, like how so many people could be so wrong about all this, their knees now jammed all the way back to their molars.

"So much for (Phillips) not being effective, and so much for not being able to lead the team," said Jones somewhat playfully before, with a little more meaning, adding "so much" for Phillips being a supposedly lame-duck head coach since the fourth-year option on his contract had yet to be exercised. "Made bunk of all that."

Of course, though, there's the playoffs, which will kick off at 7 p.m. (CT) on Saturday against the equally 11-5 Eagles, and many are probably wondering why would anyone have playoff confidence in this team?

Let's make a case.

The Cowboys are amazingly healthy for this time of year, and even if Marc Colombo isn't ready to play Saturday night - Phillips says he will practice this week - are you really afraid of Doug Free?

The Cowboys have played consistently all season, the 10-point loss at Green Bay to end a four-game winning streak really the only clunker they have thrown in, none of the other four losses by more than seven points and having a chance to win each.

They have some momentum, winning the final three games, unlike in 2007 when they lost two of the final three and didn't play well in a fourth; or losing three of the final four in 2006; or losing three of the final five in 2003; or losing two of the final three in 1999; or losing three of the last five in 1998. Yep, the Cowboys sort of limped into their previous five playoff appearances.

And on top of all that, the Cowboys have survived some sizeable potholes capable of breaking a rear axle, losing two of their first four games and those back-to-backers to the Giants and Chargers to start December.

See, only once in the last 10 games have the Cowboys given up more than 20 points, and 10 times this season no more than 17. Numbers like that always afford a chance to win.

They also had to dig deep to finish in first place, ending the Saints' undefeated season in New Orleans, going on the road to shut out the Redskins and then pummeling the Eagles here on Sunday.

"This was way more satisfying because in '07 we were

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