The 11-1 Dallas Cowboys have clinched a guaranteed playoff spot, but their eyes are on the division title and home field advantage for the playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys (11-1) are the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff spot this season. That is quite impressive considering that there are four games remaining on the schedule.
This Cowboys team has proven to be aggressive, tenacious, resilient, and hard-working. Dallas has utilized all of these traits as a team to string together a franchise record 11 consecutive victories.
Even more impressive is that in the last three wins, in a mere span of 12 days, the Cowboys have faced two of the NFL’s elite defenses and a top five offense.
In fact, take away the game against the Cleveland Browns and the Cowboys have been in physical battles since returning from their bye week.
After defeating the Minnesota Vikings on the road, in an extremely loud and hostile U.S. Bank Stadium (I was there and I will say that it was louder than Seattle was in October 2014), on Thursday Night Football in Week 13- Dallas was able to get a few extra days of much needed rest.
But the work week is here and the Cowboys are back in action, preparing for the final four games of the season where challenges are awaiting them in the form of the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, and Philadelphia Eagles.
Despite running an improbable gauntlet and compiling 11 wins in a row, the Cowboys have three teams that are currently seeded in the playoff picture in their final four games.
It won’t be easy to keep this winning streak going, especially this week when Dallas is on the road at Met Life Stadium to take on a desperate New York Giants team that is coming off a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
There will be some added pressure to winning this Week 13 matchup against the Giants.
If Dallas can find a way to pull out a tough road win, they will clinch the NFC East title and will be guaranteed a home playoff game.
To sweeten the pot even further, if the Cowboys win and the Seattle Seahawks lose to the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau this week, Dallas will clinch a first round bye.
Don’t get it twisted, the Cowboys staff and players aren’t worrying about those scenarios and hoping for any help to achieve their goals. They are going to be reiterating the same core beliefs and ideologies that head coach Jason Garrett has been preaching for many seasons now.
They will be focused on the task at hand; working hard on improving as individuals and as a team with each day of practice and preparation up until the Giants game- which will be the team’s primary focus.
But as fans and members of the media, it is our job to speculate and throw out scenarios involving the playoff picture.
It is December after all.
The great news is, the Cowboys control their own destiny at this point.
Their destiny has already earned them a spot at the table, but the Cowboys undoubtedly would like to seat themselves at the head of the table.
In layman’s terms- the Cowboys want to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
To do so, the Cowboys need to win the next two games against the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both being prime time games on Sunday Night Football on NBC.
There are no other teams in the NFC that can win 13 games, so get to 13 and the NFC championship will go through Arlington.
Which leads us to what every team’s goal is – getting to Houston.
If the Cowboys can win these next two games, they can give their superstar players minimal playing time in the final two weeks against the Lions and Eagles while getting reserves and depth players some quality experience to prepare for trying to put together two wins at home to earn a right to drive down I-45.