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NFL playoff picture: What does Cowboys-Giants mean for NFC standings

The Cowboys face the Giants in the Meadowlands on Sunday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view during the second half between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on October 24, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Tuesday result: Washington lost, but the Cowboys did not clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker. Dallas can clinch the division in Week 16 with a win or tie, or an Eagles loss or tie.

Result: The Cowboys beat the Giants 21-6. Dallas improves to 10-4 with the win and can clinch the NFC East with a Washington-Eagles tie or a Washington loss and clinching the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over PHI. They clinch a playoff berth with a Saints loss or tie or a 49ers loss.

The NFC East looked like it might turn into an interesting race to the wire, but the Cowboys got a critical win in Washington in Week 14 and now are in position to clinch the division as soon as this weekend. They travel to New Jersey to face the Giants in Week 15, with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Cowboys clinching scenarios

Dallas is 9-4 and has a three-game lead on Washington and the Eagles. Fittingly, Washington is traveling to face Philly this weekend. Dallas cannot clinch the division without some help.

If they win and Washington and Philly tie, the Cowboys win the division, per NFL Playoff Scenarios. If Washington loses and the Cowboys win, Dallas would need 4.5 or more combined wins from the Vikings (@ CHI), Cardinals (@ DET), Dolphins (vs. NYJ), Patriots (@ IND), Bengals (@ DEN), and Chargers (vs. KC). If Washington wins, Dallas can’t clinch the division.

Dallas can clinch a basic playoff berth with some help. If they win, they clinch with either a Saints loss/tie (@ TB) or a 49ers loss (vs. ATL). If the Cowboys tie the Giants, they clinch a playoff berth a loss or tie by the Falcons (@ SF), Vikings (@ CHI), and Saints. Finally, the Cowboys can clinch with a loss if the Falcons, Vikings, and Saints lose and at least one of the Cardinals (@ DET), Bills (vs. CAR), Dolphins (vs. NYJ), Bengals (@ DEN), or Colts (vs. NE) gets a tie or win.

The Cowboys are also in the thick of the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Packers, Bucs, and Cardinals are tied for the first three seeds and the Cowboys are a game back. There’s a lot of room for maneuvering around there.

Relevant Week 15 schedule

Given the tiebreakers and clinching scenarios, half of the Week 15 schedule has a chance to impact Dallas in some way or another.

#7 Washington (6-7) @ #9 Eagles (6-7)
#10 Falcons (6-7) @ #6 49ers (7-6)
#11 Saints (6-7) @ #2 Buccaneers (10-3)
#8 Vikings (6-7) @ #15 Bears (4-9)

#3 Chiefs (9-4) @ #5 Chargers (8-5)
#1 Patriots (9-4) @ #6 Colts (7-6)
Jets (3-10) @ #13 Dolphins (6-7)
#9 Bengals (7-6) @ #10 Broncos (7-6)