NFC East playoff scenarios, explained

The Cowboys beat the Eagles in Week 16, eliminating Philadelphia from postseason contention and ensuring the division would not have a b...



The Cowboys beat the Eagles in Week 16, eliminating Philadelphia from postseason contention and ensuring the division would not have a back-to-back winner for the first time since the Eagles won four straight from 2001 to 2004. Dallas now has a 6-9 record, same as Washington, but if both teams win Sunday, Washington gets the division title by virtue of having beaten the Cowboys twice this season. If Washington loses and Dallas wins, the Cowboys take the division with a 7-9 record.

If Washington loses and the Giants win, that would leave a three-way tie at 6-10 atop the NFC East, and New York would earn the division title and postseason berth by virtue of having the best record in head-to-head games among the three teams.

In the extremely unlikely event both games end in ties, Washington would win the division at 6-9-1 because it has the tiebreaker over Dallas. If Washington loses but the Cowboys and Giants tie, then Dallas would win the NFC East with a 6-9-1 record. If Washington ties, it would still win the division if the Giants beat the Cowboys. Dallas would win the division with a win and a Washington tie.

Washington enters this final shot at the division reeling. The team is still uncertain whether quarterback Alex Smith (calf) will be able to play, and his backup, Dwayne Haskins, was benched late in the 20-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, then released Monday. The team could be forced to rely on Taylor Heinicke, who was studying for final exams three weeks ago, and could also be without top wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who has been battling an ankle injury and did not attend the game Sunday.

The Giants have lost three in a row since their four-game winning streak briefly placed them atop the NFC East. The Cowboys are on a three-game winning streak.

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Newsrust: NFC East playoff scenarios, explained
NFC East playoff scenarios, explained
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