Maybe the best thing about this three-way tie atop the division at 8-6 is that Dallas plays at Washington in Week 17. While that’s great for obvious reasons, and continues the NFC East‘s recent run of having the division come down to the final week, it’s even better for the tiebreaking scenarios.
Washington finishes at the Eagles (4-10) and at home against the Cowboys.
Dallas finishes against the Saints (6-8) and at the Redskins.
The Giants finish at the Ravens (9-5) and against the Eagles.
With the head-to-head matchup, Washington and Dallas can’t both finish 10-6. The Giants could, but have the hardest remaining matchup, on the road against the struggling-but-still-nine-win Ravens, and trail both the Redskins and the Cowboys on the second tiebreaker, division record, after splitting head-to-head games.
Though one of the Giants’ rivals is guaranteed to lose in Week 17, one is also guaranteed to win, and add a division game to that tally, meaning the Giants’ best chance is to finish with two wins. The Redskins or Cowboys, quite obviously, would be best served by finishing 10-6 as well.
Which team do you think is most likely to finish 10-6?
Who’s most likely to win the division, regardless of record?
The Redskins have the most favorable road, with a four-win team, a home game against Dallas and the division-record advantage. Washington is 3-1 in NFC East games, Dallas 3-2 and the Giants 2-3.
I’m sure most of you have already worked out the tiebreaker scenarios should Washington lose a game. Preferably that loss would come against the Eagles and not the Cowboys, who could also finish 9-7 with a 4-2 division record, but only by beating Washington. If they lost to the Redskins but beat the Saints, Washington would be in the playoffs by virtue of a 2-0 head-to-head mark against Dallas, and if necessary, the division record tiebreaker over the Giants.
The third tiebreaker is common games. Dallas and Washington have played all the same teams except two. Since the Cowboys lost to both the Seahawks and Bears, they’re 8-4 against everyone else. The Redskins beat the Vikings and lost to the Rams, leaving them 7-5 against everyone else. For that tiebreaker to be relevant, the Cowboys would have to lose to the Saints and beat the Redskins, finishing 9-7 and 4-2 in-division. The Redskins would have to beat the Eagles and lose to the Cowboys to finish 9-7, 4-2.
All three teams could lose on Sunday. The Giants could lose both of their final two, leaving the Washington vs. Dallas winner to get in at 9-7. But given who the opponents are, and for the sake of argument, a 2-0 finish is the safest route to the postseason for the Redskins, Cowboys and Giants.
Based on how they’ve played of late and how they match up, who do you like to win the division? Not just who do you want to win, since that should be obvious. But who do you think will, and how?