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January 22, 2019

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Cowboys can prove they are real by grabbing NFC East title

Jason Garrett

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Philadelphia,.

If the Dallas Cowboys are for real, they will win their sixth straight game and clinch the NFC East at Indianapolis on Sunday.

If the Colts are for real, they will knock off the Cowboys and stamp themselves as true contenders for the AFC playoffs.

With three games remaining, Dallas (8-5) is in control of its division, thanks to a staunch defense and a revived air game with the addition of Amari Cooper. Has any veteran been more worth a first-round draft pick in a midseason trade?

"I didn't know we were going to get all that, honestly,'" says NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott about Cooper, acquired from Oakland. "But when I finally saw him in person, when I saw him catch the ball, I saw him run around and run after the catch, that's when I really realized he's truly special."

A Cowboys win does the trick in the NFC East, as would losses by Philadelphia and Washington. Dallas has almost no chance at a first-round playoff bye, though.

So what? The Cowboys were 3-5 and sinking and now look where they are.

Talking about sinking, Indianapolis was 1-5 two months ago. Then the Colts (7-6) won five straight before that string ended with an awful performance at Jacksonville. So they went to AFC South leader Houston, winner of nine in a row, and won.

In his comeback from a 2017 season lost to a shoulder injury, Andrew Luck has been sensational, working behind an offensive line that has gone from sieve to sturdy. Luck has been sacked 16 times, second fewest in the league.

Indy is in a four-way tie for the second AFC wild-card slot with Baltimore, Tennessee and Miami.

"Most people call this the dash for cash," Colts tight end Eric Ebron says. "So you just try to win."