NFC Playoffs: Giants, Cowboys Vying For Final Spot

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IDecember 14, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to throw a pass against the New York Giants on December 6, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Cowboys 31-24.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Eagles, Pack Firmly in Drivers' Seat

The playoff scenarios and its associated math are usually incalculable this time of year, but with three weeks to play this season things are uncharacteristically simple: There is only one spot remaining for the NFC's postseason party.

That spot will be occupied by either the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Giants since the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, and Green Bay Packers have the first five slots locked down.

Currently, the Cowboys occupy the sixth seed at 8-5 with the Giants right behind them at 7-6.  Everyone else in the conference is under .500 and either mathematically eliminated or fading fast.

Dallas has a one-game advantage over New York, but must maintain that lead in order to qualify for the postseason.  The Giants swept the Cowboys in their season series and hold the initial two-team tiebreaker.

That will not be easy for the Cowboys to do. This week, they travel to New Orleans to face the undefeated Saints.  They follow that trip with a jaunt to Washington, and close the season by hosting the hated Eagles.

New Orleans is hell-bent on going undefeated and the Cowboys will be without DeMarcus Ware.  Their chances are slim.  The Redskins are playing well as of late.  The Cowboys barely beat them at home three weeks ago, winning 7-6 in the final minutes.

The Eagles would love nothing more than to send the Cowboys packing for the second year in a row.  There is talk that the Cowboys may not win again this season, completing another late season swoon.

That means the Giants would only have to win one of their final three to make the playoffs. The Giants wind their season down with a Monday night game in Washington, at home against the Panthers, and a trip to Minnesota.

The Giants usually handle the Redskins well.  The Panthers are all but done and the Vikings will be playing a meaningless game come Week 17.

Also keep in mind that the Giants played the Vikings last year in Minnesota in Week 17. The Giants had the top seed in the NFC wrapped up and played their starters sporadically. 

The Vikings won on a late FG in a game they needed to win to qualify for the playoffs.  Perhaps they will return the favor to the Giants this season.