The Dallas Cowboys are going to wrap up their regular season on Sunday afternoon when they visit the Washington Commanders. Obviously they want to win, but whether or not they need to ultimately remains to be seen. If the Cowboys are going to see their playoff position improve then they are going to have to win against the Commanders. A Cowboys loss would guarantee the team the #5 seed in the NFC and a road trip to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round.
Say the Cowboys do win though, then a Philadelphia Eagles loss gives them the NFC East. Additionally, if the San Francisco 49ers lose then Dallas would be the number one seed in the NFC. Considering both Philadelphia and San Francisco are double-digit point favorites those seem like improbable things, but anything can happen as we all know.
Part of what makes this conundrum so interesting is that the Cowboys, Eagles, and 49ers are all playing in the same window. The Cowboys will not know their fate when their game begins in Washington but they will obviously be made aware of things as the contests march onward. Many have wondered if Philadelphia getting out to a large lead (an Eagles win locks Dallas into the #5 seed) would cause the Cowboys to take their own foot off of the gas.
Speaking Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan, Jerry Jones suggested that this may not be the case. As transcribed by our own Mark Lane:
QUESTION: WOULD YOU SIT STARTERS IF SCOREBOARD-WATCHING REVEALED THE EAGLES BLOWING OUT THE GIANTS?
Jerry Jones: “No, no. That’s a real good question, but no. We don’t go beyond what’s between the lines out there on the field at the time of the game and in general looking ahead at all would be specifically in the best interest of the club. Well, you say, ‘Couldn’t you get a little of that indication from another game that’s going on?’ But as to how we play this game, I’ve never been in a situation where another game going on at the same time impacted the game you’re playing in.”
It is certainly one thing for Jerry Jones, Mike McCarthy, or anyone else to feel this way now, but it is another if we (hypothetically) reach the second half on Sunday afternoon and the Eagles are up 30-0. You have to understand what is going on around you and how it impacts you.
The Cowboys did rest Tony Pollard last week on a short week against the Tennessee Titans, but it’s not like he was an entirely healthy scratch. The Cowboys do have to try to win this game but it makes all the sense in the world for them to accept fate if they are not catching the breaks that they need.