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 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Until they're mathematically eliminated, the Philadelphia Eagles are just one of many teams that can dream about the playoffs.
At this point, it's a far-fetched fantasy for Philly.
But...
If Minnesota, Detroit, Washington and Arizona lose Sunday and the Eagles beat Dallas, Philadelphia would be among several teams that would be one game out of the final NFC wild-card spot with two weeks left.
It's possible each of those four teams could lose - only the Vikings are favorites to win their game against Chicago. But the Eagles' chances of holding up their end is slimmer than the possibility Terrell Owens will run over to the opposite sideline and give Philadelphia coach Andy Reid a giant hug before the teams meet at Texas Stadium.
The Cowboys (12-1) are the best team in the conference and already handled the Eagles quite easily on the road last month, a 38-17 win before a national television audience in a Sunday night game.
The inconsistent Eagles (5-8) haven't won since struggling to defeat winless Miami on Nov. 18.
``Our motivation has to be that we have to win this game and the next games to come to put ourselves in a better position to make the playoffs,'' quarterback Donovan McNabb said. ``I don't even like to say playoffs right now, because our playoffs really has to be these next three games. We have to win each game.''
After Dallas, the Eagles visit New Orleans and finish with a home game against Buffalo. The last two games won't matter if the Eagles don't find a way to upset the streaking Cowboys and get help around the league.
Many of the veteran players on this team aren't used to being in such a dire position. Philadelphia's run of success over the past seven seasons - six playoff appearances, five division titles, four trips to the NFC championship game and one to the Super Bowl - has spoiled players and fans.
Safety Brian Dawkins is one of the few who has experienced the good times and the dreadful ones. He was here when the Eagles were a laughingstock before Reid came in and turned things around in 1999.
``I've been through it before. I haven't always had success as a pro,'' Dawkins said. ``No matter what your record is, it's your job to go out and be professional and prepare yourself for every game. Even in the midst of turmoil and the midst of adversity, the goal should always be to go out and give your all to win games.''
If the Eagles got one or two breaks along the way, they could be in a much better spot right now. They've lost five games by four points or less, including the last three games. Each of those was decided in the final minutes.
Is Philadelphia better than its record?
``I think your record speaks for itself at the end of the day,'' linebacker Takeo Spikes said. ``But, people who know football and look at it from a football perspective, when they go back and look at the film and understand stats, they will see a good football team.''
Just not good enough to play in January.
Notes: TE L.J. Smith (knee) and backup RB Correll Buckhalter (concussion) won't play against the Cowboys. Matt Schobel will start in Smith's place and rookie Tony Hunt will take Buckhalter's spot.

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