The Atlanta win helped clear the playoff path, but the Dallas Cowboys can’t allow a Thanksgiving misstep to taint the division title race.
Despite positive momentum, winning the NFC East title remains the only realistic way for the Dallas Cowboys to secure a playoff spot after early season NFC failures.
The pride inspiring Falcons win was beneficial on several levels. However, if the cost comes at losing to the Redskins today, the exchange becomes devastating.
Finishing 9-7 the right way is the most important goal for this reinvigorated Cowboys team. Doing so the right way requires going 5-1 in the division to control the first championship tiebreaker.
A loss Thursday not only provides Washington a two game cushion, but also requires the Cowboys to recover three games to nullify the tiebreaker advantage after losing both games head to head.
In terms of winning the division, today’s contest is the true second must-win after defeating Philadelphia in the first meeting. Let’s take a look at the must-wins needed to steal the division.
(3-5) MUST-WIN #1 BEGINS
November 11: Dallas wins at Philadelphia 27-20
(4-5) ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS 9-7
November 18: Dallas wins at Atlanta 22-19
(5-5) MUST WIN #2 CONTINUES
November 22: Washington at Dallas
(6 wins or better) MUST-WIN #3 AND PLAYOFFS BECOME LIKELY
December 9: Philadelphia at Dallas
(7 wins or better) WIN ONE OF THESE AND ALMOST HOME
November 29: New Orleans at Dallas
December 16: Dallas at Indianapolis
December 23: Tampa Bay at Dallas
(8 wins or better) FINAL MUST-WIN #4 AND IN
December 30: Dallas at New York
To achieve 9-7 the right way, the goals are clear. Beat Washington today, defeat Philadelphia in the rematch, then win one of three remaining non-divisional games.
Do so and at worst Dallas enters the New York finale needing one last win to finish 9-7 and 5-1 in the NFC East. The odds are great for success against the 3-7 Giants.
I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and much joy on this special holiday. Despite recent success, Dallas simply cannot afford a loss today and expect to win the division to secure a playoff berth. Turkey Day, Redskins, must-win…eat up.