Cowboys can reclaim NFC East but must first defeat…
By Brad Austin
Last week I wrote the Dallas Cowboys desperately needed a win, though defeating Seattle was not mandatory.
Those words proved true with the Giants losing to the Saints. The Eagles and Redskins were sidelined on their bye week.
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Dallas narrowly missed adding their first Romo-less win, yet no other team in the NFC East added a victory either.
This weekend is the polar opposite of the Seattle situation. Sunday’s divisional clash with Philadelphia is as “must win” as they come.
Either Dallas captures their first win without Tony Romo on Sunday, or they’ll hand him over a team with little to no margin for error.
With games against Carolina (7-0) and Green Bay (6-1) on the horizon, Romo needs at least one mulligan during his march to the playoffs.
More importantly, a loss to the Eagles would erase the Cowboys current division record tiebreaker advantage.
Make no mistake, Dallas must win the NFC East or they’ll be sitting home in January.
JUST WIN AND THE RUN BEGINS
The bright side is beating the Eagles will set off a firestorm for the struggling Cowboys.
At 3-5 (3-1 NFC East), Dallas would then face Tampa Bay’s 27th ranked defense.
For an offense that has trouble scoring without Romo, the Bucs defense would be a Godsend and likely victory.
At 4-5, Romo would make his return and face the troubled Dolphins. Miami’s three wins came against poor teams with a 7-15 combined record.
Their four losses included three 13+ points defeats, and another to 2-5 Jacksonville. Miami should be a third straight victory, restoring Dallas to 5-5 (3-1 NFC East).
NFC EAST 3-WEEK FORECAST
NEW YORK GIANTS (4-4 overall, 2-2 NFC East)
The Giants next three weeks involve games with Tampa Bay and New England. The third week is a bye.
A likely win and loss would leave the Giants at 5-5 (2-2 NFC East). That would tie them with Dallas overall, yet the Cowboys would own the superior division record.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-4 overall, 1-1 NFC EAST)
The Redskins are facing a tough road the next three weeks against New England, New Orleans, and Carolina. Three teams with a combined 18-4 record.
While they’ll likely lose at least two of those, let’s say miraculously they win two. Even the best case scenario leaves them at 5-5 (1-1 NFC East).
The overall record would tie them with Dallas, yet drop them below with two less division wins.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-4 overall, 1-2 NFC East)
The Eagles next three games are with Dallas, Miami, and Tampa Bay. Assuming they lose to the Cowboys and win the next two, the record becomes 5-5 (1-3 NFC East).
Philadelphia would also be tied with Dallas overall, yet leave them behind with a two-game deficit in division record.
The NFC East is struggling to pull away while the Cowboys are burning through Romo’s absences. After five straight losses they’re still only 1.5 games behind New York.
Beating the Eagles would provide a commanding 3-1 division record. Tiebreaker advantages will likely decide a tight NFC East race this season.
A loss Sunday would likely spiral Dallas to a feeble 3-6 record when Romo returns, and also wipes out the division record advantage.
The Buccaneers (3-4) are a very beatable team with a bad defense and rookie quarterback.
The Dolphins (3-4) will face a full strength Cowboys squad with Romo back in charge and all guns blazing.
The following two weeks are very likely victories for this struggling Cowboys squad.
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The only feat they MUST accomplish is taking down the division rival Eagles on Sunday. Once that monster is vanquished, the flood gates open.
Before Thanksgiving, Dallas will be poised to reclaim first place in the NFC East. All that it’ll take is feasting on another bird a few weeks prior.