FRISCO, Texas – Finally, some clarity.
It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was one of the ugliest games of the 2020 NFL season, but the Washington Football Team escaped Philadelphia with a 20-14 win on Sunday night, clinching the NFC East in the process.
There will be plenty of conversations about the Eagles' motives in this Week 17 matchup, as Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson made several questionable decisions, including passing up a game-tying field goal from the Washington 4-yard line and benching starting quarterback Jalen Hurts during the third quarter.
It's all irrelevant to the Cowboys. Obviously, Sunday's 23-19 loss to the New York Giants already eliminated them from playoff contention, but Washington's win only served to drive the point home: even had the Cowboys finished the season with a win, a playoff appearance was not in the cards this year.
Instead, it'll be 7-9 Washington that wins the most woeful division in the NFL, becoming the third team since the 2002 realignment to reach the playoffs with a losing record. As the NFC's No. 4 seed, they'll host No. 5 seed Tampa Bay on Saturday night at FedEx Field.
As far as the Cowboys are concerned, the division race isn't the only thing that came into focus on Sunday night.
Washington's win also finalized the NFL draft order among non-playoff teams, as it cleared up several tie-breaking scenarios.
For the Cowboys, that means they'll pick No. 10 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. They could have potentially climbed as high as No. 8 – but losses by both Carolina and Denver kept them from climbing any higher.
The Cowboys' divisional rivals will be keeping them company in the draft order. Sunday night's loss dropped Philadelphia to 4-11-1, netting them the No. 6 overall pick. The Giants, who could have made the postseason with a Philadelphia win, will pick right behind the Cowboys at No. 11 overall.
As a final matter of business, several results around the league also cleared up the Cowboys' 2021 slate of opponents.
This part might not be completely final, because the NFL is still weighing the possibility of adding a 17th regular season game as early as 2021.
Until then, though, the Cowboys can be sure of 16 of next season's opponents by virtue of their third place finish in the division. The Cowboys will play the entire NFC South and AFC West by virtue of the NFL's scheduling formula. They'll also play their fellow third-place finishers in the NFC North and NFC West – the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals.
Here's the full breakdown of the 2021 opponents:
- HOME: New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Arizona, Denver, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Carolina.
- AWAY: New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Minnesota, Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans, Tampa Bay.