FRISCO, Texas– Last year, the Cowboys won just four games all season.
Now, with still four games left to play, the Cowboys have clinched a playoff spot, becoming the first team in the NFL to punch a ticket to the postseason.
With the league's best record at 11-1, the Cowboys are officially in the playoffs – and didn't even have to play a game on Sunday. This team did their work on Thursday, outlasting the Vikings 17-15 for their 11th straight win. That assures them of at least an 11-5 record and thanks to a loss by the Redskins (6-5-1), the Cowboys will at least be one of the six best teams in the NFC.
The Cowboys entered the day needing either the Redskins to lose to Arizona or the Bucs to lose or tie to the Chargers. While Tampa Bay rallied to win, Washington fell short to the Cardinals. That means the Redskins can only get to 10 wins, which would be a game short of the Cowboys.
Obviously, the Cowboys have their eyes set on a much bigger prizes. And next week, they can start clinching a few more things, including the NFC East.
The Cowboys got some help there as well Sunday as the Giants lost to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. That now gives Dallas a full three-game lead in the division heading into their showdown with the Giants (8-4) Sunday at MetLife Stadium. If the Cowboys can win that game and improve to 12-1, they would indeed win the NFC East title.
And it's not too farfetched to start thinking about clinching a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Heading into the Sunday night game between the Seahawks and Panthers, only the Giants (8-4), Lions (8-4) and Seahawks (7-3-1), can have a better overall record than the Cowboys, who also play the Giants and Lions down the stretch.