Does anyone in the NFC East want to win the division? As Week 14 commences, the battle to win the league’s worst division is still up for grabs with all four teams sitting below .500 and three teams still mathematically alive for a home playoff game (sorry New York Giants).
The Dallas Cowboys (6-7) are still in control of the division and in first place. The Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) are one win away from tying for first place with Dallas while the Washington Redskins (3-9) are still in the hunt to steal a division from two teams that have shown they don’t want to win it.
The path to the NFC East title is clear for all three teams, but can get complicated when going through all the scenarios. This is what the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins need to do in over to win the NFC East:
Dallas Cowboys (6-7, first place)
Remaining schedule: Los Angeles Rams (7-5), at Philadelphia Eagles (5-7), Washington Redskins (3-9)
The NFC East is still controlled by the Cowboys. Dallas is in a position to clinch the division by Week 16 if the Cowboys beat the Rams next week. A win over the Eagles would give them the division title since Dallas won the first meeting in Week 7 and would own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Philadelphia. Dallas could win the next two games and rest their starters in the season finale against Washington.
That’s the easiest scenario for the Cowboys, but the division will come down to Week 16 against the Eagles regardless. The Cowboys can lose to the Rams and still hold a share of the division lead if the Eagles go 1-1 in their next two games. Even if the Eagles win their next two and the Cowboys lose to the Rams, Dallas can clinch the division with a win over Philadelphia in Week 16 and a win over Washington in Week 17.
Dallas beating Philadelphia in Week 16 gives the Cowboys control of the division, but the best strategy is to make sure the Week 17 game doesn’t matter. A win over the Rams would guarantee the Cowboys are at least tied with the Eagles for the division lead heading into Week 16.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-7, second place)
Remaining schedule: New York Giants (2-10), at Washington Redskins (3-9), Dallas Cowboys (6-7), at New York Giants (2-10)
The Eagles squandered a golden opportunity to tie for first place in the division when they lost to the Miami Dolphins last week, but get a chance at redemption against the Giants this week (thanks to the Cowboys loss). If the Eagles and Cowboys are tied for the division lead heading into their Week 16 matchup, the Eagles take the division lead with a win over the Cowboys and can clinch the division with a win over the Giants in Week 17.
Philadelphia has a 1-1 record in the division while Dallas is 4-0. The Eagles have to match that record in the final four games to get the “common opponents” tiebreaker in play. For the Eagles to accomplish that feat, they have to finish the season 4-0 (all four games are against NFC East opponents) to match Dallas’s division record (assuming the Cowboys finish their NFC East record at 5-1).
If the Eagles and Cowboys both finish with an 8-8 record, the Eagles win the division based on their win over the Cowboys in Week 16. The “common opponents” tiebreaker is the Eagles beating the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, two teams the Cowboys lost to. Dallas is currently 3-6 against “common opponents” while the Eagles are 5-4.
The Eagles can make this really easy for themselves and just win out to finish with a 9-7 record. That will ensure the Cowboys will finish 8-8 at best. If the Cowboys lose to the Rams in Week 15 and the Eagles win their next two games, the Eagles (7-7) would win the division with a win over the Cowboys (6-8). The Week 17 matchup against the Giants would not be for the division title.
For the Eagles to have any hope to win the division, they have to beat the Cowboys in Week 16.
Washington Redskins (3-9, third place)
Remaining schedule: Green Bay Packers (9-3), Philadelphia Eagles (5-7), New York Giants (2-10), at Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
The Redskins are still mathematically alive in the NFC East thanks to the Cowboys’ loss to the Chicago Bears Thursday night. So here’s what the Redskins need to win the NFC East title:
- Win out
- Cowboys lose their final three games
- Eagles finish their final four games with a 1-3 record with their one win coming against the Cowboys in Week 16
If the Redskins accomplish this feat, they finish at 7-9. The Cowboys would finish at 6-10 and the Eagles would also finish at 6-10, which would give Washington the division title. The Redskins wouldn’t win the division if the Cowboys and Eagles finish at 7-9, via division record tiebreaker. The best the Redskins can finish in the division is 3-3 while the Cowboys are already 4-0 in the NFC East.
The scenario above is Washington’s only hope at a playoff spot. A loss to the Packers or an Eagles win over the Giants eliminates them from postseason contention.