FRISCO, Texas – While there are countless ways to describe how different this season has been compared to others, the biggest of them all might be this:
It's not even December and we can start talking about the Cowboys clinching a playoff spot.
Of course, the next round of games will be in December as the Cowboys take on the Vikings Thursday, with the rest of the league finishing up the weekend with games on Sunday and Monday.
However, come Sunday evening, there is a chance the Cowboys could clinch one of the six playoff spots in the NFC – and it's not that farfetched.
Currently, the Cowboys lead the rest of the conference by at least two games with their league-best 10-1 record, thanks to a 10-game winning streak. To get into the playoffs by the end of this week, they must stretch that streak to 11 straight by beating the Vikings.
To clinch a playoff spot this week, the Cowboys need:
- To defeat the Vikings Thursday night in Minnesota.
- The Buccaneers to either lose or tie the Chargers in San Diego or the Redskins lose to the Cardinals. Both of those games will be played on Sunday.
To reiterate, the Cowboys don't need both Tampa Bay and Washington to lose, just one of the two. In fact, if the Bucs and Chargers tie, it would also benefit the Cowboys, but a Redskins tie would not, considering they already tied a game this season against the Bengals.
But this scenario is for the Cowboys to simply get into the playoffs. At 10-1 that seems to be a formality, but considering this team went 4-12 just last year, making the tournament would be quite an accomplishment.
To win the division, it gets a bit more complicated and will extend further than this weekend. However, the Cowboys could clinch the NFC East by next weekend if they can defeat both the Vikings and Giants. That would give them a three-game lead over every other division rival with just three games to play. The Cowboys would then have the common opponents tiebreaker on the Giants, even if the two teams were to finish 12-4 in the finals standings.
From there, the Cowboys would of course set their sights toward clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
But first things first, they a have to get into the playoffs – something that could realistically occur by this weekend.