Last week I asked "How many wins will it take to win the NFC East in 2012?" The answer was that if the Cowboys get to 9-7 they will most likely win one of the tie breakers with the Giants if the Giants also end up 9-7. In follow-up to that post, I noted that Washington will also be in the picture. Now that we have another week of data, let's update the numbers.
Giants 6-4. Green Bay, @ Washington (MNF), New Orleans, @ Atlanta, @ Baltimore, Philly.
Dallas 5-5. Washington (Thanksgiving), Philly, @ Cincy, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, @ Washington.
Washington 4-6. @ Dallas (Thanks.), Giants, Baltimore, @ Cleveland, @ Philly, Dallas.
The Giants, with the toughest schedule, are likely to lose at least 3 more games. They only have one "easy" game left -- Philly at home. They could lose any or all of the remaining five games. If they lose to Washington, they will have 3 NFC East losses, and will likely lose a tiebreaker to Dallas and/or Washington.
Washington, despite the worst record, may have the easiest road. Baltimore is probably their toughest game. If they beat Dallas, Giants, lose to Baltimore, but win in Cleveland and Philly, they will come home 8-7 to play Dallas again.
Dallas, if they lose this Thursday, will need to beat Philly, then win @ Cincy, and beat either PIttsburgh or New Orleans to go into Washington also 8-7.
At that point, the Giants would likely be out of it with a loss to Washington, and at least two losses to GB, NO, Atlanta, and Baltimore. Even if they were 8-7, a 9-7 finish would not be enough because the winner of the Dallas/Washington game would finish no worse than 4-2 in the NFC East, while the Giants would have 3 NFC East losses.
The reason I am writing this post is to demonstrate that a loss this Thursday would not signal the end to the Cowboys season. The key will be getting guys back healthy.
This Thursday we are likely going to be without: Demarco Murray, Tyron Smith, Phil Costa, and Sean Lissemore. We may still be without Mike Jenkins and Ryan Cook. If all of those guys are able to get back by the Cincy game (or before), we will have a much better team to put on the field. It will include the offensive line that dominated in Baltimore. We will have our running back back. And Lissemore and Jenkins will strengthen the defense.
So, pray for health. That's what the Cowboys need most of all.