Dallas Cowboys cannot afford a Thanksgiving misstep

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.