The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles appear headed for a wild-card matchup as the NFL's 15th weekend settled two more playoff spots but left only eight of the 28 teams out of contention for postseason play.

The Eagles (8-6) joined the Redskins (9-5) as two of the NFC's three wild-card entries, with New York, Chicago and San Francisco already winning their divisions. That leaves only one of the six NFC slots undecided.

The Dallas Cowboys (7-7) have a one-game lead for that final spot and are on the verge of a stunning turnaround. The Cowboys, who had a 1-15 record last season, defeated Phoenix, 41-10, yesterday for their fourth victory in a row. Rookie Emmitt Smith tied a Cowboys record with four touchdown runs.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Raiders (10-4) defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-7, to take over first place in the AFC West and join the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins in clinching AFC playoff berths. Six teams stay in contention for the remaining three spots, and none of the division races has been decided.

The Redskins, who clinched a playoff spot with a 25-10 victory over New England on Saturday, were joined yesterday by the Eagles, who beat the Green Bay Packers, 31-0.

One of the few remaining questions about Redskins-Eagles III is where it will be played. The Redskins have a one-game lead over the Eagles with two to play and would clinch a first-round home game by finishing the season with victories over Indianapolis and Buffalo.

If the Redskins hold that lead, they'd open the playoffs at RFK Stadium against the Eagles on Jan. 5 or 6. If the teams finish tied, the Eagles would host the first-round game.

The Eagles host the Cowboys next week, then go to Phoenix to finish the season. If the Redskins split their final two games and the Eagles win both, the teams would both finish 10-6.

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head meetings, but they split their two games. The next tiebreaker is record within the division. The Redskins are 4-4; the Eagles are 4-2 with the Cowboys and Cardinals left on their schedule.

The Cowboys play at Philadelphia next weekend, finish the season at Atlanta and have a good chance of going 8-8, which might get them into the playoffs ahead of the Vikings (6-8), Saints (6-8), Buccaneers (6-8) and Packers (6-8).

"We'll need some help to make the playoffs, and that's just what you don't want," said Vikings quarterback Wade Wilson. "We definitely have to win our last two games {against the Raiders and 49ers}, and hope that the other guys lose."

The Cowboys hadn't won four games in a row since 1985 and hadn't beaten the Cardinals since 1988. They have the NFL's longest current winning streak.

"I think they could beat a lot of people," Cardinals Coach Joe Bugel said.

If the Cowboys make the playoffs, they would join the 1975 Baltimore Colts as the only teams since the 1970 merger to do so after finishing with the worst record the previous season.

"I think everyone in this {locker} room believes we've got what it takes to win," said Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. "Whether or not the rest of the league believes us, I don't know. But the main thing is that we believe in ourselves."

The Packers appeared to have the easiest road to the playoffs, but that ended four games ago when quarterback Don Majkowski tore the rotator cuff in his right arm. Green Bay hasn't won since and has Detroit and Denver remaining on its schedule.

The AFC is much more confused. The Bills (12-2) and Dolphins (11-3) are atop the AFC East and play next week to decide who will win the division and get a first-round bye. Indianapolis (6-8) is the only other AFC East team that hasn't been eliminated.

The Raiders, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in five years, lead the Chiefs (9-5) by a game with two remaining in the AFC West. They haven't been in the playoffs since winning the division in 1985, and haven't won a playoff game since beating the Redskins, 38-9, Jan. 22, 1984 in Super Bowl XVIII.

"It's a great day for the organization, and it's a great day for this football team," Raiders Coach Art Shell said.

"It's my first playoffs ever in any sport," running back Bo Jackson added. "I'm anxious to see what happens."

The AFC Central is even more confused. Houston (8-6) and Pittsburgh (8-6) are tied for the lead and Cincinnati (7-7) is a game behind. And the race may not be decided until the final weekend when the Steelers and Oilers play in the Astrodome.