The NFL and NBC announced Sunday night that next Sunday's game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md,. will be played in prime time, with kickoff scheduled for 8:20 pm ET. It's the second year in a row that the NFC East title will be decided in prime time by the result of the final regular-season game of the year.
The 9-6 Redskins hold a one-game lead on the 8-7 Cowboys and the 8-7 New York Giants in the NFC East race. But based on potential tiebreaker scenarios, the Giants cannot repeat as division champions and the Cowboys can win the division with a victory Sunday.
If the Redskins win the game, they are NFC East champions for the first time since 1999, free and clear with a record of 10-6 and no tiebreakers coming into play. If the Cowboys win, they and the Redskins will both be 9-7. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record, and they would be 1-1 against each other. The second tiebreaker is record within the division, and they would each be 4-2 against NFC East opponents. The third tiebreaker is record in games played against common opponents, and that's where the Cowboys would win it. They and the Redskins have 12 common-opponent games, and the Cowboys are 8-4 in those while the Redskins are 7-5. The Cowboys beat the Steelers, Bengals and Panthers -- all of whom beat the Redskins -- while the Redskins beat the Saints and the Ravens, who beat Dallas.
Last season, the Cowboys lost to the Giants in a winner-take-all Sunday night NFC East title game on Jan. 1. This year, should the Cowboys lose, they will be eliminated from playoff contention. The Redskins could still make the playoffs as a wild-card team if they lose the game, but they would need the Vikings and the Bears to lose. So, if Minnesota and Chicago both lose Sunday afternoon, the Redskins will clinch a playoff spot before they even kick off against the Cowboys, and would be playing only for the division title and a first-round home game.
The Giants also can still make the playoffs as a wild-card team. They need to beat the Eagles and they need the Cowboys, Vikings and Bears all to lose. The Giants' regular-season finale at home against the Philadelphia Eagles will be played at 1 pm ET as originally scheduled.