By Matthew Postins
With one game left the Dallas Cowboys are still in the NFC playoff race. Here’s where the Cowboys stand and how it could break down.
Where the Cowboys are now: The Washington Redskins sit at the top of the NFC East with a 9-6 record. They have a one-game lead on Dallas (8-7) and the New York Giants (8-7). If you’re ranking teams in the NFC the Cowboys would be No. 8. The Giants would actually be right behind them at No. 9.
Winning the NFC East. Oddly enough, the win-and-you’re-in scenario still applies to the Cowboys entering next week. If you recall last week we outlined that the Cowboys could still win the NFC East, even if they lost to the Saints.
Well, the first thing the Cowboys needed has already happened. The Giants’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens means the Giants can finish no better than 9-7 with a win next Sunday over Philadelphia.
So if the Cowboys beat the Redskins next Sunday the Cowboys and Redskins would each finish 9-7.
If that happens then all three teams will finish tied atop the NFC East. Here’s why the Cowboys would claim the playoff berth.
The first tiebreaker is head-to-head games, and all three teams would be dead even because all three would be 1-1 against each other.
The next tiebreaker is divisional record. In this scenario, that would eliminate the Giants, since they would have a 3-3 divisional record to the 4-2 divisional records of Dallas and Washington.
The third tiebreaker is record against like opponents. This is where the Cowboys would win the berth. Right now Dallas has an advantage with an 8-4 record in common games to Washington’s 7-5.
So all Dallas has to do is beat Washington to win the NFC East. The scenario applies even if the Giants lose to the Eagles next Sunday.
Week 17: The Cowboys travel to Washington and the Giants host the Eagles.
The Wild Card. Highly unlikely. Both the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings would have to lose next Sunday for the Cowboys to enter into a wild card scenario. Remember that the Bears own a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys.
Realistically? All the Cowboys have to do is beat the Redskins and they go to the playoffs. It doesn’t get more simple than that.