How different one week can make in the NFL.
The Cowboys traveled to New York last weekend knowing that a victory would not only clinch the NFC East title, but secure them a first-round bye in the NFC playoff picture.
Despite the loss to the Giants, both scenarios are still very possible for the Cowboys, who still hold a two-game lead in the division standings. But they will need some help this weekend in order to clinch one of those two situations.
No longer does a victory alone secure the division or a bye. The Cowboys would need to beat the red-hot Bucs Sunday night to get to 12-2, and then need a loss by the Giants, who host the Lions. If the Giants defeat Detroit and get to 10-4, they would mathematically remain alive even if the Cowboys win. With two games to play, they would need to win both games and have Dallas lose both, to create a 12-4 tie, in which New York would win the division based on the head-to-head sweep.
If the Cowboys and Giants were both to lose this weekend, it would keep them in the lead of the division and the NFC, but the Lions would now be one game behind in the race for home-field advantage.
So if the Cowboys want to wrap up the NFC East, a first-round bye – they would need to beat the Bucs and have the Giants lose to the Lions.