Cowboys Clinch 2021 NFC East Title with Raiders' Win Over Broncos

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 27, 2021

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The Dallas Cowboys are NFC East champions for the first time since the 2018 campaign thanks to the Las Vegas Raiders' victory over the Denver Broncos.

As the Dallas Morning News explained, the Cowboys clinched their division title before they even took the field for Sunday's game against the Washington Football Team because the Raiders' win and the Atlanta Falcons' win over the Detroit Lions. Those victories gave the Cowboys the strength-of-victory tiebreaker.

Jon Machota of The Athletic noted there has not been a repeat NFC East champion in 17 years.

Dallas is 10-4 on the season, which is quite the bounce-back effort from last year when it was 6-10 and dealing with a season-ending injury to quarterback Dak Prescott.

While the Raiders' win took plenty of the drama out of the Sunday night showdown in the NFC East, there is still plenty at stake for the new division champions. After all, it is still alive in the race for the only first-round bye in the conference.

The Green Bay Packers are pacing the field with a 12-3 record, but a Dallas win would mean the Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cowboys are all just one game back at 11-4. Green Bay also has a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Rams, so it is in an ideal position with games against the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions remaining.

Considering the Vikings and Lions are a combined 9-20 on the campaign, it would be surprising if anyone but Aaron Rodgers and Co. ended up as the No. 1 seed.

The Cowboys still have an opportunity to realistically play their way into the No. 2 seed and earn better matchups as the playoffs unfold.

Sunday might be something of a must-win if they are going to do that since they finish with the 10-5 Arizona Cardinals and 8-7 Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys have the talent to challenge for the Super Bowl with Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, among others, but the seeding may be the most important thing with so many legitimate contenders.

That means the matchup with the Football Team is still a critical opportunity even though they are already division champions.