The Cowboys have a chance to win the NFC East with a win over the Commanders on Sunday. With that, they would not only clinch their third straight 12-5 season, but also the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. For Washington, the Commanders have lost seven straight games, and currently hold the No. 2 overall pick in next year's draft. Here's what the staff writers had to say about Sunday's finale in Washington.
Patrik Walker: For once, the Cowboys are actually walking into what can be viewed as the definitive trap game — the Commanders having nothing to lose except the No. 2-overall draft pick by upsetting the Cowboys. The better team is Dallas, by a mile, as is the fact that the NFC East and No. 2 seed in the NFC is on the line, and that's just few of the reasons the Cowboys should win. But the Commanders want to play spoiler, and they'll play loose and aggressive, making this a potential bar fight. I just think there's too much on the line and too many lessons that have been learned this season by the Cowboys to believe they suffer a repeat of one year ago. 27-13, Cowboys
Nick Eatman: When you think about 2023 ended – a controversial win over the Lions at home and then a Philly loss to the Cardinals after blowing a 21-6 lead – you have to wonder if things are going to get a little screwy to start 2024. I just can't imagine it's going to be easy for the Cowboys to just win the NFC East and blow out Washington like they did six weeks ago. Nah, that's not going to be what happens here, as much as we'd like to see that. The Cowboys will probably have a slow start to this game and the Commanders will have some life, trying to win one game before the end of this dismal season – one more win for Ron Rivera. But ultimately, the better team usually wakes up and wins the game and I think this will happen on Sunday. With Mike McCarthy preaching all week that the playoffs start now, you'd like to think the Cowboys will come up and dominate from the jump. But I think it's wishful thinking. As long as they win, is really the only thing that counts. The Cowboys start heating up in the third quarter and eventually pull away with a 28-19 win over a gritty Commanders team that played the 49ers the same way last week.
Nick Harris: While the personnel will mostly be the same for Washington from what the Cowboys saw on Thanksgiving, a schematic change defensively with Ron Rivera taking over the unit could cause the offense to be slow out of the gates. However, I think it finds a stride before half and coasts in the second half for the NFC East crown. Cowboys, 31-14.
Mickey Spagnola: Just have a sneaky suspicion Sunday against the Commanders backup RB Rico Dowdle, if given the opportunity will take advantage and flourish. And especially if the Cowboys jump on the 4-12 Commanders the way they should after beating them earlier in the season 45-10. Look, the first time around the Cowboys ran for 100 yards on just 18 carries. And already the Commanders have ruled defensive lineman Jonathan out for this game. Chances are if the Cowboys get up early, they will start pulling some of the more veteran players from the game, and that likely will include Tony Pollard. And with likely Rico and fullback Hunter Luepke the only other active running backs, Rico might end up with 20 carries. Sure like to see what he can do with that kind of workload. Beware.
Kyle Youmans: One side has everything still to play for. Dallas has playoff seeing, home field advantage, confidence on the road, building momentum, and more to chase entering Week 18. Washington? Pride is about all they'll be chasing. Or possibly a higher draft pick. With that being said, I just don't see Washington putting together a very spirited attempt against a roster far more powerful already. Dallas will look to put this one away early, lock up the division, and push their attention to the postseason by resting starters in the second half. I'm taking the Cowboys 33-13 in Washington.