We’re officially in the second half of the NFL season and something is becoming more apparent with each passing game: the most realistic path to the playoffs for the Dallas Cowboys is to win the NFC East.
We spent the better part of Sunday rooting for everything that could help the Cowboys (any help is good help). While the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, and Minnesota Vikings all won and kept themselves all the more in the discussion for a potential wildcard berth in the NFC... both the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers lost before the day was over.
The NFC is stacked, but the Cowboys aren’t necessarily totally out of the picture. Dallas might be in the picture there, but they’re in the center of the frame for the division race, especially because the Washington Redskins lost to the Atlanta Falcons and dropped to 5-3 on the season.
The NFC is loaded, but the NFC East is more than winnable
There are five non-Redskins teams in the NFC that already have five wins with one game left in Week 9. Should the Cowboys pick one up on Monday night against the Tennessee Titans they will still only have four on the season.
While the playoffs don’t start next week or anything, what’s apparent is that things are going to be extremely crowded in the line to get a wildcard ticket in this conference. As true as that is it’s also true that the NFC East is looking for someone to ask it to dance and the Cowboys have a few songs coming up that could be the right rhythm if they try hard enough.
NFC East standings through Week 9 (with Cowboys yet to play)
- Washington Redskins: 5-3, 2-0
- Philadelphia Eagles: 4-4, 1-0
- Dallas Cowboys: 3-4, 1-1
- New York Giants: 1-7, 0-3
When the clock strikes zero on the scoreboard at AT&T Stadium on Monday night hopefully the Cowboys will have won, but the true gauntlet of their season will have begun. With every NFC East team having had a bye at that point, the Cowboys season will be defined by their next four-game stretch.
After Tennessee the Cowboys will travel to Philadelphia (who are coming off of their bye and ready to debut new receiver Golden Tate), travel to Atlanta (who just helped us out by beating Washington 38-14), host Washington, and host New Orleans (who just impressively announced themselves as the conference’s top team). This is a big deal because these are four formidable opponents and two of them are NFC East foes. The Cowboys have every opportunity to catapult themselves to the front of this whole group should they pick up the necessary wins, but if they don’t the season could get away from them rather quickly.
The Redskins will play five of their remaining eight games on the road. Philadelphia still has to play both the New Orleans Saints (so do the Cowboys though, obviously) and the Los Angeles Rams. Perhaps more notable than anything when it comes to Washington and the Eagles is that both games between the two remain on the schedule. If the Cowboys handle their own business and have the two Redskins/Eagles games break in the direction that they want at the time then things could be awfully nice come Christmas time.
Shout out to the Atlanta Falcons. We love you, but we also hope you lose by 100 points in two weeks, whoever you’re playing against. We said this for no reason at all.