After harsh criticisms, Troy Aikman picks Cowboys to win NFC East

A week ago, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman slammed the Cowboys for organizational "dysfunction" and called a 28-14 loss to the Titans as bad of a defeat as he could remember.

A 27-20 Cowboys win over the defending champion Eagles shifted the FOX NFL analyst's tone.

Could Dallas, at 4-5 and two games behind Washington, escape with the division?

“Right now, if I had to pick someone, I’d pick Dallas,” Aikman said Tuesday morning on his weekly Dallas radio appearance with “The Musers” on KTCK-FM 96.7 The Ticket. “The Thanksgiving game (between them) is huge.

“If Dallas can keep it within two games going into Thanksgiving, win that game, I think they’re positioned well.”

Washington improved to 6-3 in Tampa Bay on Sunday, but the win didn’t come easily. A Redskins defense that has anchored the team’s success this year forced four Buccaneers turnovers and gave up only 3 points. But it allowed 501 yards of offense, a formula for winning “that’s unheard of,” Aikman said.

And offensive tackle Geron Christian became Washington's third lineman to suffer a season-ending injury in the last two weeks.

That could leave the Cowboys in a favorable position for their rematch with Washington. At FedEx Field in October, Dallas kicker Brett Maher missed a potentially game-tying field goal as time expired.

“The next week or so will be interesting to see what happens,” Aikman said.

The Cowboys travel to Atlanta this week to play a Falcons team coming off a 28-16 loss to the Browns. The Falcons destroyed the Cowboys 27-7 last year, sacking Dak Prescott eight times in the process. But Dallas was without both running back Ezekiel Elliott (suspended) and left tackle Tyron Smith in that game, and defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who signed with the Patriots this offseason, accounted for six of Atlanta's sacks.

Prescott also took four sacks Sunday night in Philadelphia and got lucky on a near pick-six in the first quarter. But he engineered two fourth-quarter scoring drives to secure a win at Lincoln Financial Field – a win that Aikman said “spoke volumes” to the Cowboys’ mindset right now.

Did Prescott’s performance speak loudly enough to warrant a contract extension from the Cowboys?

“I’m a big Dak Prescott fan, was really happy for him to come out and respond the way he did,” Aikman said. “If you do invest that money in him, you know what you’re going to get.

“With Dak, I know he’ll be even more committed to being great and helping team win championship.’

There’s no need to rush an extension, though, Aikman said.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to pay him but longer you can hold off to be certain of evaluations, I don’t see anything wrong with that either," Aikman said.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said last week that Prescott is "young and going to be extended," may think similarly.

“From what I gather with Jerry, that’s really the approach he’s taken,” Aikman said. “Does it make sense to pay Dak right away? Maybe. But the more information you can gather on any player before committing to any guy, the better.”

Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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