How Dallas Cowboys can win the NFC East in five steps
Somehow, someway the Dallas Cowboys have a chance to win the NFC East.
In fact, it’s entirely possible the Cowboys finish 6-10 and host a playoff game.
Sitting at 4-8 — one game from being tied for first place – they still find themselves alive. They’ll need help, though.
Winning out, in this case, doesn’t guarantee a playoff berth. The Cowboys must make up some ground along the way with only one divisional game remaining on the schedule (Week 17: vs. Redskins).
Over the final four games, the Cowboys play at Green Bay, host the New York Jets, travel to Buffalo and welcome what could be a winner-take-all matchup against the Redskins. Here are five steps that can give the Cowboys the division:
1. Dallas needs to win at least two of its last four games
The obvious fact is the Cowboys need to finish on top of the division (or tied). Next, allow tiebreakers to handle the dirty work. Dallas is in pretty good shape when it comes to tiebreaking scenarios because of their wins over every team in the division. At the very minimum, they must go 2-2 down the stretch to finish 6-10. That, however, still probably wouldn’t be good enough to tie the other teams. Technically, the entire NFC East can finish 0-8 over the next two weeks and Dallas would still be alive. Division play in the NFC East picks up in Week 16.
2. Get help from a surging Bills squad
Every NFC East team except the Giants still has Rex Ryan and Co. on its schedule. With the Bills fighting for their playoff lives, they could be of great help to the Cowboys. Over the next two weeks, Buffalo could drastically alter the divisional race by knocking off Philly and Washington. Then, the Cowboys can make up ground in Week 16 by heading to Orchard Park to nab a win.
3. Take care of business against the Redskins
Jay Gruden’s team has yet to win away from FedEx Field this season and the Redskins are traveling three of the next four weeks (at Bears, vs. Bills, at Eagles, at Cowboys). Despite controlling their own destiny, if the Redskins continue to fall on the road it will set up an intriguing date at Jerry’s World. Because the Cowboys have already beat each NFC East team, it nullifies the head-to-head tiebreaker. With that, the Cowboys currently own the best divisional record (3-2). That’s big. Only three NFC East games (Redskins at Eagles, Redskins at Cowboys, Giants at Eagles) remain this season. If Dallas finishes 4-2 in the division and are tied atop the NFC East, they would own the tiebreaker.
4. Allow the rest of the division to beat itself up
The Eagles have the daunting task of going up against the Bills and Cardinals the next two weeks before hosting the Week 16 tilt against the Redskins. Fortunately, for the Eagles, all three games are at home. An ideal scenario would be the Eagles beating the Redskins in Week 16 and then losing to the Giants the following week. If that happens, and Dallas is tied atop the division by beating the Redskins, they’re in.
5. And that gets the Cowboys a home playoff game
After enduring a seven-game losing streak and losing their quarterback twice, the Dallas Cowboys could be NFC East champs. Expect to see some high-profile celebrities walking the sidelines if that’s the case. Depending on how the last month of the season shakes out, it could be a home game against the Seahawks, Packers or Vikings. Ponder that storyline. Adrian Peterson, the long-rumored trade of last offseason, heads home to attempt to shatter the dreams of America’s Team. The month of December in Dallas promises to be a wild ride.