The NFC East is holding a race for the top spot in the division in the most bizarre way possible. So weird that a bad team like the Washington Redskins and a broken team like the Dallas Cowboys can still make the playoffs if they finish first.
How can the 3-8 Cowboys still be a factor? Well, first, they have two games against the Redskins left this season. But it’s more than just being there. Most of their losses, even without Tony Romo, have been by one possession or less. Yes, they can’t score points or struggle on offense like it’s the most difficult thing in the world, but there’s still talent, and even the worst football teams in memory have been able to get into the end zone.
The question is the timing, and whether or not they can get a stop. Last season, with the best running game in the league and a healthy Romo from start to finish, Jason Garrett finally learned how to manage a clock. This season, the Cowboys seem to have lost at least three games by blowing that aspect of their game to smithereens, although mostly it’s been an exhausted defense unable to hold on to a small lead or tied score in the final minutes against teams smartly eating away at the clock.
The Redskins are a mystery. Personally I think Kirk Cousins can be a franchise quarterback to trust, but he needs a better team than Washington. But we’re already heading into the second week of December, and they are 5-6, the best record in the division, with a clear pattern emerging: If Cousins doesn’t turn the ball over, the Redskins win their games. And the Cowboys, the Redskins opponents on the upcoming Monday Night Football, are terrible in generating turnovers.
And so, the 2015 NFL season is into its final month, with a lot of very bad teams (if not worse than that) can still make the playoffs. The Cowboys beating the Redskins, which can happen, means being just one game behind the entire division. With the Giants looking like they’re losing on purpose to make Tom Coughlin angry and the Eagles being one of the weirdest teams coached by someone who radiates negative confidence, anything is truly possible.