ARLINGTON, Texas – Jerry Jones firmly believes a division title is the Cowboys’ only safe bet to punch their playoff ticket.
He isn’t so sure about how many wins it will take to claim the NFC East crown.
“It’s very early and I wouldn’t dare to venture what can happen,” Jones said Sunday when asked how many wins would win the East. “I wouldn’t dare to venture. I will say this: We’re going to need to win the division, I think, to get in the playoffs.”
That’s the right approach for the 5-4 Cowboys, who are a game behind the New York Giants in the division standings with two late-season, head-to-head matchups looming. However, it’s not as if a wild card berth is out of the realm of possibility.
Detroit owns the tiebreaker over Dallas due to the biggest road rally in NFL history, but the Lions will have a hard road to the playoffs, especially if quarterback Matthew Stafford’s broken finger continues to be a problem. Four of the Lions’ remaining seven games are against teams with winning records, including a couple of meetings with the undefeated Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. Detroit has to travel to play two division leaders, the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders.
The Bears, on the other hand, could be tough to catch. They have only two teams with winning records remaining on their schedule.
The 5-4 Atlanta Falcons are the only other NFC team that is above .500 and not leading their division. The Falcons’ remaining schedule features three teams with winning records.
The Giants are the only opponent remaining on the Cowboys’ schedule with a winning record. The NFC East rivals will play a home-and-home series over the last four weeks of the season.
So it’s not a stretch to project the Cowboys claiming one of the NFC’s wild card bids, but Jerry doesn’t want to take that chance. Plus, he’d certainly prefer to begin the playoffs at his $1.2 billion home.