For the first time since 2010, the Cowboys enter Week 17 without any postseason prospects – they're not playing for the NFC East title and, unlike last year, they don't have the division wrapped up by the final game of the regular season.
This year, the Washington Redskins (8-7) have clinched the NFC East early, assuring themselves of a home playoff game in a week. At 4-11, the Cowboys are out of the playoff race, but they'd like to end the season on a positive note: with a victory at AT&T Stadium.
DallasCowboys.com staff writers Bryan Broaddus, Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rob Phillips give their gut feelings for Sunday's season finale:
Bryan Broaddus: The Cowboys would like to win the game to finish out the season. The Redskins would also like to win but not at the risk of losing players for their playoff game next week. Can see a situation where Jay Gruden plays his players for a half, then goes with the backups. The Cowboys are already playing with backups at several key positions and in my opinion are better than what the Redskins are going to roll out there. My gut feeling is that the Cowboys, with better depth and the likelihood of keeping more of their starters on the field, win this game on a two-point conversion. Dallas 22, Washington 21.
Nick Eatman: This team has fooled me all year long it seems. I'm sure whatever happens Sunday will also provide some head scratching moments. I know fans are hoping the Cowboys don't mess up their draft status. For my own personal reasons, I certainly want the Cowboys to close out with a win. And I honestly think they will. This rivalry always sees wacky things and it would be so Dallas-Washington of them to have the Skins win the division but get swept by the Cowboys. Give me Dallas getting two more turnovers and five sacks. Darren McFadden gets to 1,000 on his first carry and finishes with 1,130 for the season. Brice Butler gets a touchdown and Kellen Moore leads the Cowboys to a 24-13 win.
David Helman: I honestly don't know where to go with this pick. The Cowboys are not a very good team, but they've been competitive almost every time they've taken the field. The Redskins aren't a great team, either, but they've been on a roll since they lost to this Cowboys team back at the start of December. There's also the added factor that we don't know how many Washington starters will play – or for how long. It's just hard to judge. But in this final outing of 2015, I think Washington has a bigger reason to get up. They've been playing well, and they have an opportunity to roll into the playoffs with a four-game win streak and a 9-7 record. I think Darren McFadden will run for 108 yards, giving him 1,105 on the year. I also think Kellen Moore will throw his second career touchdown – let's say to Jason Witten. But Kirk Cousins has been playing well, and he'll find a way to push his team to a win – something like 27-17. It isn't all bad news, though, as a loss assures the Cowboys a top-5 draft pick.
Rob Phillips:Back in Oxnard last summer, with Super Bowl hopes buzzing, it would've been inconceivable that by Jan. 3 the Cowboys would be playing for their first home win since the Sept. 13 season opener. Well, that's the 2015 season for you. I've picked the Cowboys to win more often than lose, and as much as they've struggled on offense and in key moments defensively at times, they've lost six of their 11 games by a touchdown or less – a grand total of 27 points. I think Kellen Moore will avoid turnovers for the first time in three games, and Brice Butler will continue to progress in the lineup with Dez Bryant on injured reserve. The Redskins have had a much better season and they'll play beyond Sunday, but my gut feeling is the Cowboys' offense finally clicks in Week 17 (hey, why not?) and Dallas wins, something like 28-20.