The Washington Redskins can assure themselves of an NFC Eastern Division title by winning three of their last five games, if one of those victories is against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.

If that occurs, the Redskins, now 8-3, would finish 11-5 and the Cowboys, now 7-4, would be no better than 11-5. The NFL lists a series of nine division title tie-breaking criteria. The first is head-to-head competition, and a Washington victory in Dallas next week would give them a two game sweep of the series.

IF Dallas wins next week and the teams finish with identical regular-season records, the next tie breaker would be the records in the NFC East division. At the moment, the Cowboys are 5-1 in the division, the Redskins are 4-2.

The first two the breakers are expected to settle the issue. If not - slide rules get set - the procedures are, 3, best record against common opponents; 4, best rating determined by losses against common opponents (lowest number of losses to common opponents wins; ties count as a half-win, half-loss); 5, strength of schedule; 6, best net points against common opponents; 7, best net touchdowns against common opponents; 8 best net points against all opponenets; 9, coin flip.

Breaking ties for the wild card, if the typing teams are in the same division, is accomplished with the same rules for settling title winners. If wild card teams come from different divisions, the criteria are: 1, head to head; 2, record against common opponents; 3, strength of schedule (aggregate won-lost-tied percentage of a club's regular-season opponents); 4, best net points against all opponents; 5, best net touchdowns against all opponents; 6, coin toss.

If there is a first-place tie in a division, the loser or losers under the tie breaking system are eligible for a wild-card berth.

This season, there will be two wild card teams from each conference. The two wild-card teams from each conference play each other on Dec. 24. The following weekend, the winners of these wildcard games will play the division winner with the best record.

The division winners with the second-and third-best records meet each other on Dec. 30 or 31.

The winners of those games play for the conference championship on Jan. 7, with the Super Bowl scheduled at 4 p.m. on Jan. 21 in Miami.