Dallas Cowboys fans always experience a bit of pleasure whenever the Philadelphia Eagles lose. But the Eagles’ unexpected 20-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints has more of an impact than just the sense of schadenfreude it brings. It means that the slim hopes for Dallas to overtake Philadelphia are not just extended, but got a bit better. The season finale against the Washington Commanders could now be for the NFC East title and possible the bye that comes with the number 1 NFC seed, depending on how things turn out when the Eagles play the New York Giants, and also what happens with the Minnesota Vikings and the San Francisco 49ers.
Should the Cowboys get the NFC East crown, they would be assured of at least one home game in the playoffs. They have done very well at home this season, going 8-1 at AT&T Stadium, with the lone loss in the season opener. It definitely gives them something to play for.
But this is a banged up team. They have already decided that center Tyler Biadasz will not play as he recovers from a high ankle sprain. Tony Pollard and Leighton Vander Esch were inactive against the Tennessee Titans and could probably benefit from another week off to prepare for the playoffs. With the game on the line and the struggles the team has had running the ball and getting stops on defense, it now may be seen as necessary to play both of them.
There was a scare when Dak Prescott came up limping against the Titans. He did not leave the field and was crucial to the win, but it is just a reminder of how suddenly things can turn into a disaster. Now with the offensive line having to reshuffle yet again, Dallas will have to risk the most important player on the roster. There are others, like Micah Parsons, who would likely benefit from sitting out the final game.
Washington, the Cowboys Week 18 opponent, has a bleak situation. If Green Bay wins over the Vikings today, Washington is out.
The Cowboys will be playing to win in Week 18. We will all be holding our breath on every play.