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It's do or die for a lot of teams coming into the final week of the regular season - NFC teams in particular. The Bears, Vikings, Cowboys, Giants and Redskins are all fighting for a spot in the wildcard round. This week's sole matchup is a corker.
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
When and Where:
Monday, 31st December, FedEx Field, Maryland.
LIVE 12:15pm on ESPN1.
The NFC East has been one of the most competitive divisons in the NFL and this season was no exception. Three teams will finish with at least a record of 8-8 and the divisional title will come down to this final matchup between divisonal rivals - no wonder it was flexed into the night's primetime slot.
the Washington Redskins (9-6) exploded out of their Week 10 bye to win six in a row, putting them on top of the NFC East for the last two weeks. Their dramatic recovery from a 3-6 record has been a product of the terrific play of both their rookie QBs, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. While their secondary contues to suffer poor performances and injuries the defence, in general, has had some sucess creating pressure and generating turnovers. Finally the Redskins' rushing attack continues to be the most effective in the NFL with rookie Alfred Morris looking to break franchise records.
The Dallas Cowboys (8-7) - while suffering a setback in Week 16 - have also been hot in the month of December. Tony Romo has put up some supreme performances in tough situations in no small part due to the efforts of his breakout WR Dez Bryant. Bryant -although playing with a broken finger- has finally lived up to this potential and looks to be one of the NFL's elite receivers moving forward. The Cowboys have also found some balance in their playcalling thanks to the return of runningback DeMarco Murray. Murray has found a role within the Cowboys' offence that allows them to take some of the pressure away from Romo and run down the clock if need be - something the Cowboys were sorely missing earlier in the season.
This matchup is not only a rivalry match between two of the NFL's biggest franchises, for both teams it is the first round of the playoffs. Win and you're in, simple as that. If the Redskins lose they still have a chance if the Vikings and Bears also lose, very unlikely.
Watch out for:
Pierre Garcon and Dez Bryant, both WRs have enjoyed very productive Decembers and both will be the primary receivers for their QBs. In what should be a high-scoring affair both these players figure to feature heavily.
Final word and prediction:
The Redskins won their last matchup, beating the Cowboys at home on Thanksgiving, but this is not the same Cowboys they met in November and Romo is displaying some vintage form. I predict the Cowboys to win 34-27.
Note: This is the only game currently listed on ESPN, we'll update if more are announced.