The Dallas Cowboys failed to clinch a playoff spot when they lost in overtime to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a game where they certainly earned the loss with a defense that was suddenly porous, and too many offensive miscues. But they still finished the day with that trip to the postseason ensured, thanks to the New York Giants beating the Washington Commanders 20-12 on Sunday Night Football.
The Cowboys had their ticket punched for them because they beat the Giants twice already. While they could still drop from the fifth seed, the tiebreakers involved means that they cannot fall completely out of a wild card bid. And they could lock up the fifth seed as early as next week. although it would take beating the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Eve and the Giants losing to the Minnesota Vikings. That would mean whichever of Dallas and Philadelphia doesn’t win the NFC East is the fifth seed no matter what happens in the last two weeks of the season. Given that the Cowboys would have to win out the rest of the way and the Eagles would have to lose their last three games for Dallas to be the NFC East champ, it is almost certain that the Cowboys would be the one holding that fifth seed.
While being assured of a playoff appearance with three games left to play is hardly a negative, the way it happened is less than satisfying. Now the Cowboys have to focus on winning as many of those last three games as they can. Given what we saw in the debacle in Duvall, that may not be an easy task.