With a 17-0 shutout of the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., the Dallas Cowboys of 2009 punched a ticket to the NFL postseason on Sunday night. It cemented the field for the big dance completely, with a Green Bay win and a New York loss earlier in the day. What's remarkable, and kind of odd, is that the seeding is still completely in the air.
Going into next weekend, the NFC knows the pieces that will eventually make up what we like to call the playoff picture; it's just that, as of now, like a confounding jigsaw puzzle, no one knows where they will be, when the wild card round kicks off.
For Dallas's purposes, a win against Philadelphia means a division title and a home playoff game, which both ratchets up the importance of next Sunday's game, and tempers any premature exaltation on the Cowboys part.
Taking it a step further, and likely setting into motion what will become an overused refrain, owner/GM Jerry Jones said on Sunday that the team will prepare for next Sunday's match-up with the intensity of a playoff game.
"I look at Philadelphia as a playoff game," said Jones after the win. "It's so meaningful to us, it could give us a chance to play at home if we win, and that's a big deal...I was in the team meeting this morning, and Wade said one thing, and he said it real quick: 'This game's about the world championship.' That's all he said and walked out. He said, 'I know you know that.' His message was real simple and real easy for everybody to understand.
"We need to feel the same way about Philadelphia as we do the first playoff game. It's almost go home if you don't get it--that's a good attitude."