Here is the scenario. In week 17 the Dallas Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles. Both team's are already guaranteed a playoff spot. Currently Philadelphia has the bye and home field advantage over Dallas in the playoff's.
If Dallas wins this weekend, Arizona and Minnesota both lose, they will win the division and get a first round bye. But if they win and either Arizona or Minnesota win they still remain in the wild card round.
The worst part of it all is that if Dallas wins in week 17 that will be twice they've beaten Philadelphia. That is a tough task to beat a team of that caliber twice in one season. What would be even tougher is to win and face that very same team when it matter's the most, in the playoff's. It's hard enough beating a team twice but a third time would be a nightmare to try to accomplish.
Whether Dallas wins or loses, there is a possibility of them facing Philadelphia for a third time. But by losing in week 17 they won't have the pressure as they would if they win this weekend. But they still would have to play an extra game by starting in the wild card round. Which they may have to do either way depending on how the weekend plays out.
It seems like a tough and tricky decision, but to me they have to play the odds. Green Bay and Arizona are both very good teams and capable of beating one another on any given day. Arizona needs to try to win in hopes that Minnesota will lose and Dallas will win to get the first round bye and to try and keep from playing Green Bay twice in a row. Also, to keep home field advantage over Green Bay. Easier said than done.
Minnesota only needs to win, then Dallas to beat Philadelphia to get the first round bye. Minnesota is slowly falling down, but came back strong against Chicago only to lose by six in overtime. Minnesota is facing the weaker New York Giants in week 17.
If I'm Dallas I would look at the odds. Needing to beat Philadelphia, Arizona losing to Green Bay, and Minnesota losing to New York to get the first round bye. I would lay down to Philadelphia. Not just "hand" them the game but just "go through the motions". No reason to risk injury and with a win the odds are not in their favor to get the first round bye. Plus having to possibly beat Philadelphia for a third time would be terrifying.
If they lose, they release the pressure of having to beat Philadelphia for the third time in a row. They also allow their players to rest. Then they can just hope that Minnesota continues there problems and beat them in the wildcard round, then move on without the pressure of beating Philadelphia a third time. They need too much help to get the first round bye.
Maybe they'll go for the win, keep their fingers crossed that Arizona and Minnesota both lose. Then hope to not have to face Philadelphia for the third time. But with odds like that, I wouldn't.
Either way you look at it or either way they go it's going to be a tough road. Dallas proved they could when in December, but it's not going to get any easier over the next few weeks.