The Philadelphia Eagles can win their first title today since the 1960 team won the National Football League championship by beating the Green Bay Packers.
The Eagles (10-4) play the Dallas Cowboys (9-5) at 12:30 p.m. (WDVM-TV-9) at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, and a victory would clinch the Eastern Division title of the National Football Conference and the home-field advantage for the divisional playoffs Dec. 29-30.
The Eagles already have assured themselves of at least a wild-card spot in the playoffs, with their most victories since 1961.
The cowboys can win the East title by beating the Eagles today and the Redskins at Dallas next week. They can clinch a wild-card spot by beating the Eagles.
There will be another nationally televised game today -- Denver (10-4) at Seattle (7-7) at 4 p.m. (WRC-TV 4). Denver is a 3-point favorite.
Seattle was knocked out of the playoff picture last Sunday, but Denver is tied with San Diego for the American Conference West lead.
San Diego plays Sunday at New Orleans, which is 7-7 in the NFC West. The Broncos and Chargers finish the regular season Monday, Dec. 17, in San Diego.
The Redskins and their fans will be watching the Eagle-Cowboy game closely. The suspense will carry through Sunday's game between the Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals at RFK Stadium here.
The Eagles defeated the Cowboys in Dallas, 31-21, Nov. 12, and began a four-game winning streak, capped by a 44-m breeze over the Detroit Lions last Sunday.
The Cowboys ended a two-game losing string last Sunday by beating the New York Giants, 28-7.
Despite playing on the road, the Cowboys are 3-point favorites because of their airpower. Roger Staubach, the No. 1-ranked passer in the NFC, has better receivers in Drew Pearson, Tony Hill, Butch Johnson and tight ends Billy Joe DuPree and Jay Saldi. Pearson wrenched his knee doing a post-touchdown spike last week and is listed as questionable.
Ron Jaworski, the NFC's No. 3-ranked passer, depends mostly on 6-foot-8 wide receiver Harold Carmichael and tight end Keith Drepfle to take some of the burden off running back Wilbert Montgomery.
With 1,387 yards rushing, Montgomery ranks second in the NFC to Ottis Anderson of St. Louis, who has run for 1,426.
Cowboy Tony Dorsett is fifth in the NFC with 1,071 yards rushing but is more of an outside runner than Montgomery. Dorsett has averaged only 17 carries in 14 games, compared with 24 by Montgomery.
The statistics say that the Eagles will be going against a better defense. The Cowboys rank third in the league overall -- third against the rush and second against the pass -- despite the apparent vulnerability of their secondary.
Dorsett does not get much help with the running game and that is why the Cowboys' ground game ranks seventh to the Eagles's second.
Still, Dallas will come in with the No. 1 passing game and No. 1 overall offense against a defense that ranks fifth overall -- fifth against the rush and sixth against the pass.
What the statistics don't measure is the Cowboys' experience in big games or the fire those hungry Philadelphia rooters transmit to a team already hypermotivated by the Eagles' passionate coachc, Dick Vermeil.