Week 17 is upon us. Teams have fought, scratched and clawed their way through the season, some (Falcons, Texans) more voraciously than others (Jaguars, Eagles). With one game left to play, there are still two playoff spots available. Amazingly enough, the only division with no teams yet clinching that coveted ride is the NFC East.
Both the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys have chances to clinch those final two spots, though, and there’s not much that has to happen before we see that come to fruition.
The Redskins are playing the Cowboys Sunday night on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, a rescheduling from an original 1 o’clock (EST) game. (The NFL made that command decision as they saw the cards fall into place – what better match up than two storied franchises battling it out in front of a national audience?) Washington has won six straight and they sit alone atop the division at 9-6. But if Dallas can pull out a win over the Redskins, they are the ones playoff-bound by virtue of their better record against common opponents. In fact, even the New York Giants are victorious against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas’s 9-6 trumps both Washington’s and New York’s 9-6.
As for that final Wild Card spot, if the Redskins lose to the Cowboys (they won on Thanksgiving Day by a touchdown, the final score being 38-31), they can still clinch that final position. Also jockeying with 9-6 records are the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. The Vikings play the Green Bay Packers, a hot team looking for their 12th win. The Bears visit the Lions in Detroit, and even though the Lions have lost seven-in-a-row, Las Vegas is only giving them three points. By virtue of conference records, the Redskins would still clinch.
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Even the New York Giants are still hoping for a miracle. Should they knock off the Eagles (remember, the Eagles have already beaten them once this season), a Dallas win and Bears/Vikings losses would hand them the Wild Card spot. A few weeks ago, the Giants looked like the team to win the division. Now they are on the outside looking in.
Four NFC teams are at 9-6. One more bucking for that same record at the Meadowlands. Three out of five teams looking for those final two spots are NFC East teams. Could those final two spots have a reservation on them that say “NFC East Only?”
Any given Sunday…