How Cowboys Still Can (Unbelievably) Win NFC East, Claim Playoff Spot

Priority No. 1: Dallas must win out vs. Eagles, Giants

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The NFC East is a beautiful place.

So beautiful, in fact, that the Dallas Cowboys, who lost quarterback Dak Prescott and were embarrassed multiple times on national television, are not yet out of the NFL playoff picture.

Insanely, there’s still a chance the Cowboys win the NFC East, and thus host a playoff game. All hope seemed lost two weeks ago, and for good reason, but after consecutive wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers along with a little outside help, the 5-9 Cowboys are just one game back of the division-leading Washington Football Team.

The Cowboys lost twice to Washington this season, and thus will have to finish with a better overall record. There’s no margin for error for Dallas, and it’ll need some help, but it’s manageable.

Here’s how the Cowboys still can win the NFC East:
— Cowboys win out, finish season 7-9
Washington loses last two games
— Giants lose one of last two games
— Eagles lose one of last two games

And here is each team’s remaining schedule:
Cowboys: vs. Eagles Week 16, at Giants Week 17
Washington: vs. Carolina Panthers Week 16, at Eagles Week 17
Giants: at Baltimore Ravens Week 16, vs. Cowboys Week 17
Eagles: at Cowboys Week 16, vs. Washington Week 17

Again, priority No. 1 is the Cowboys win out. If they don’t do that, then we’re done here. So, for the sake of this exercise, we’re going to say Dallas does that — beats the Eagles and Giants and thus finishes 7-9 overall.

It then would come down to the 4-10 Panthers defeating Washington on Sunday, before the Eagles hand the Football Team what would be a third consecutive loss Week 17.

Again, it’s not impossible, but far from a sure thing.

Carolina is 2-5 on the road this season, and enters Washington as a 2.5-point underdog. But that game, especially with Alex Smith’s status up in the air, is a toss up. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule told reporters Monday he was hoping All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey would practice Wednesday, a sign that maybe McCaffrey plays this week. That would benefit Dallas, too.

If it comes down to Week 17, a rising Eagles team led by Jalen Hurts certainly could poise a threat to Washington. The no-name team defeated Philadelphia in Week 1, but that outcome shouldn’t be something Cowboys fans put much stock into, mainly because of the Carson Wentz-Hurts factor.

Of course, there still may be Cowboys fans out there who are upset Dallas’ two-game win streak has caused them to drop out of the top-five selections in the 2021 NFL Draft. (Disclaimer: This writer is one of them.) And for those of you, take into account that this is no certainty.

If we’ve learned anything this season, it’s that the Cowboys are very capable of losing two straight and finishing 5-11. Those draft odds wouldn’t look too shabby then, right?

It’s why the NFC East is such a beautiful place.

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