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Cowboys playoffs: How Dallas can still win NFC East even after Christmas Eve loss

The division was hardly lost for the Cowboys in Miami.

Syndication: Palm Beach Post Jim Rassol / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Dallas Cowboys loss on Sunday to the Miami Dolphins was unfortunate. While what happened at Hard Rock Stadium will take a couple of days to fully get over, the reality is that as frustrating of a loss as it was for the Cowboys, their hopes of winning the NFC East were not significantly dampened.

Entering Week 16 the Cowboys knew that they had to win at least two of their final three games, with one of them having to be the regular-season finale on the road against the Washington Commanders, and pick up a loss - any loss - from the Philadelphia Eagles in order to win the division.

It is true that the Dolphins loss removed the room for error that Dallas has in terms of things they control, but they are favored in their Saturday night game against the Detroit Lions and will likely be against the Commanders as well. If things go chalk they are expected to handle their end of the bargain, and for what it’s worth consider that they were underdogs in the two games that they just lost.

Here is what the Dallas Cowboys need in order to win the NFC East

  1. Beat the Detroit Lions in Week 17
  2. Beat the Washington Commanders in Week 18
  3. Pick up one loss, any loss, from the Philadelphia Eagles: New York Giants (Christmas afternoon), Arizona Cardinals, at New York Giants

What’s more is that if these things happen, the Cowboys not only win the division, but still claim the number two seed in the conference after they lost all relative hope for the top one with last week’s loss against the Buffalo Bills. This would be true because Dallas is playing Detroit on Saturday night, the NFC North winners are the direct competition for the two seed against whoever wins the NFC East.

Sunday’s loss to Miami failed to see the Cowboys answer questions that we have had, and while that is concerning in and of itself, it did not radically alter the path forward or what Dallas needs in order to achieve the best possible (at this point) starting point in the postseason tournament.

Silver lining on this Christmas Day.

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