The Dallas Cowboys taking care of business in Tennessee on Thursday meant they got to relax and soak in the Sunday slate in all its glory.
It was almost a perfect weekend for the Cowboys. Not only did the Gardner Minshew-led Eagles stumble at home against the Saints, but the Packers defeated the Vikings; leaving a sliver of hope that Dallas could attain the No. 1 seed.
Unfortunately, the path to the NFC’s top seed is still complicated after San Francisco eked out an overtime road win against the Raiders.
Of course, notching the top seed really isn’t the utmost concern in Arlington. Winning the NFC East has always been the more attainable goal, and the Eagles losing their second straight means the Cowboys can leapfrog their rivals in Week 18 if they dispose of the Commanders, and Philly loses to the Giants.
The Giants themselves clinched a playoff berth on Sunday by dismantling the Colts. They’re locked into the No. 6 seed regardless of what happens next weekend.
You might think that would incentivize Brian Daboll to rest his stars, but the first-year head coach dismissed that idea on Sunday.
NY Giants head coach Brian Daboll not planning to rest starters vs Eagles is massive for Cowboys.
"“No. You get rest after the season. It’s a long season,” Daboll told reporters. “This is the fun part of the season. It’s the fun part of the season when you’re winning. It’s the bad part of the season when you’re losing.”"
Daboll elaborated on a follow-up question that asked if he’d given any thought to resting his starters, saying he hasn’t and he’s just going to enjoy the victory – “go home and smoke a cigar and hang with my family.” While a slight backpedal, it’s clear Daboll is leaning towards playing most of his guys.
The Giants will undoubtedly still be underdogs in Philadelphia. After all, the Eagles drubbed New York 48-22 at MetLife Stadium in Week 14.
Still, the Cowboys will take any and all small victories leading up to Week 18, and Daboll (tentatively) planning to play his first team gives the G-Men a fighting chance against an Eagles team that’s dealing with injuries to big-time players and hasn’t played complementary football since they last played the Giants.
Here’s what Daboll said during his Monday press conference:
"We’ll talk about it and do what’s best for the team. So, it’s early Monday. Go out there and try to have a good week of practice, prepare like we normally do, and then decide what we want to do relative to who’s playing, who’s not playing. Whatever we think is best for our team, that’s what we’ll end up doing."
Sounds like Daboll was initially caught up in the thrill of victory. It’s anyone’s guess how the Giants approach Sunday’s finale, but the fact Daboll hasn’t fully ruled out Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Dexter Lawrence playing is big for Dallas.
Who knows? Maybe the Giants decide to stick it to Philly after Doug Pederson famously tanked the Eagles’ season finale (he pulled a healthy Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld) in 2020 that handed Washington the division title. A Washington loss would’ve seen the Giants claim the NFC East crown.
Regardless, Cowboys fans will be hoping Daboll comes through on his original comments.