Control their own destiny. I've been waiting to type those words for a while. Ever since the serious 2012 playoff chase began in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have been on the outside looking in. They always needed help. No longer. While the Cowboys are still officially on the outside, they have a clear path to the playoffs if they can crank out two more wins.
Back on Dec 3rd, after the Cowboys knocked off the Eagles to rebound from the Redskins loss, they were 6-6 but they needed a whole lot of things to go right for them to get to the post-season. Chiefly among them was to keep winning, which seemed like the most likely thing to derail them. At the time I penned an article that was hopeful, but clearly cautious. We were still breathing but on life-support.
So every year, as long as the Cowboys are mathematically alive, I'm holding out hope. I'm going to ride this thing until someone puts us out of our 2012 misery.
Now we're actively in the chase. Way back at 3-5, the playoffs appeared to be a bridge too far. With two weeks left in the season, we're very close to the destination.
A three-game winning streak has changed the perspective. Dallas also needed some key losses by other teams and they have gotten much of that. Only those pesky Redskins keep winning right along with Dallas.
Below is how the race looks currently in the NFC. Dallas holds the 8th spot, but wins against New Orleans and Washington would give them the NFC East.
|1||Atlanta||12||2||0||@ Detroit, Tampa Bay|
|2||San Francisco||10||3||1||@ Seattle, Arizona|
|3||Green Bay||10||4||0||Tennessee, @ Minnesota|
|4||Washington||8||6||0||@ Philadelphia, Dallas|
|5||Seattle||9||5||0||San Francisco, St. Louis|
|6||Minnesota||8||6||0||@ Houston, Green Bay|
|7||Chicago||8||6||0||@ Arizona, @ Detroit|
|8||Dallas||8||6||0||New Orleans, @ Washington|
|9||NY Giants||8||6||0||@ Baltimore, Philadelphia|
In the wild-card chase, the Bears recent struggles make that a possibility for Dallas. The Vikings tough remaining games could see their hopes in peril. There is probably a way for the Cowboys to get the wild card, but the only reason we'd be looking at that is if they lose one of the two remaining games. I won't spend time trying to untangle all that mess, but suffice it to say it could happen, but don't bet the house on it.
It's really all about the NFC East for the Cowboys. It comes down to the Redskins and Cowboys for now, both controlling their own destinies because of their final weekend battle. The Cowboys could win the East under a scenario of losing to New Orleans but winning against the Redskins. But who wants to go back to needing help from other teams? The Cowboys are making their run, just go ahead and close out with an NFC East crown on the back of a 5-game winning streak.
If we do that, we'll be the "red hot" team entering the playoffs that no one will want to play. It sounds unbelievable given the season we've had, but it's really not. It could happen.