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NFC East: Cowboys Still Control Fate; Forecasting Cousins

Posted Dec 13, 2013

The last time the Eagles played the Vikings, they were in the middle of a three-game win streak and had eyes on the NFC East championship.

In a game that was postponed two days by a blizzard, the 10-4 Eagles hosted a 5-9 Vikings team and lost 24-14.  The result ultimately didn’t matter, as a New York loss to Green Bay that same weekend handed Philadelphia the division crown. But it serves as yet another reminder that no game is guaranteed in the NFL.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, they don’t need any specific result from the Eagles to maintain their playoff hopes – so long as they win. Three wins, including the season-ended against Philadelphia, would put Dallas in the playoffs by virtue of a superior division record.

If the Cowboys lose to Green Bay this weekend and the Eagles down the Vikings, it becomes a game of “what if?” The favorite cliché of coaches and players everywhere – “control our own destiny” – goes out the window in that scenario, and the Cowboys would be reduced to hoping for help from other teams.

For now though, a Philadelphia loss to Minnesota would certainly be nice.  It would take a bit of pressure off this Green Bay game, as the Eagles and Vikings will have finished playing when the Packers and Cowboys kick off.

It’s interesting to see how one week can change the perception of the season. Prior to Monday night, you would have called the Cowboys’ position within the division enviable. One walloping later and it looks like a longshot they’ll pass Philly in the standings.

The script could be completely flipped by Sunday night – for better or for worse.

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The Redskins were not an interesting team earlier this week – just a bad one. Now, the impact Robert Griffin III’s benching is one of the biggest storylines in the league.

Like I wrote earlier this week, this couldn’t have bigger implications on the Cowboys, as they prepare to face the Redskins in just more than a week. With Griffin, Washington was dead in the water and looked unlikely to win another game this season. They lost to Kansas City by 35 points this past weekend.

Kirk Cousins offers the opportunity to give Washington a spark during the final three weeks of this season. Quarterback change typically either goes horrendously or extremely well for the team making it, and my guess is Cousins will excel.

A big part of my confidence is due to the fact that the Redskins travel to face a woeful Atlanta team in the Georgia Dome. Pristine conditions combined with a lousy opponent and a disinterested home crowd makes me think we’re going to see a Washington win.

If that happens, the circumstances surrounding the Week 16 Cowboys-Redskins matchup will be drastically different than they were just a week ago.

In this division, what else is new?

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