Two of the NFL's most storied franchises will renew a classic rivalry on Sunday, but it won't be history on the minds of the Steelers when they travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys. This season is all either team is worried about, with both teams' playoff hopes hinging on every game left.
The Dallas Cowboys (7-6) are a game behind the New York Giants for first in the NFC East and a game behind the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears, who both are at 8-5 and occupy the two NFC Wild Card spots. The Cowboys are tied with the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings, who are also each 7-6 and chasing those two Wild Card spots.
Dallas is coming off a come-from-behind, 20-19 win over the Cincinnati Bengals (which incidentally helped keep their Week 15 opponents in Pittsburgh in playoff position). But Dallas could have to try and make the tournament without wide receiver Dez Bryant, who suffered a finger injury against the Bengals and could be placed on injured reserve -- not good news when the team is about the face the league's top-ranked pass defense.
Pittsburgh (7-6) is coming off a disappointing 34-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers, but is still in the sixth and final AFC playoff spot with three weeks remaining. The Steelers lost despite getting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back after three games missed with a rib injury. Pittsburgh currently holds the tie-breaker over the Bengals for the final playoff spot in the AFC.
The Steelers and Cowboys franchises are no strangers, despite playing only once every four years in the regular season. The teams (which combined own 11 Super Bowl titles) have met in three Super Bowls, the last time in Super Bowl XXX in 1996, when Dallas won 27-17 for its fifth world championship. Pittsburgh has since won two world titles while Dallas has yet to return to the Super Bowl.
The Steelers and Cowboys kick off at 3:25 p.m. CT on Sunday. The game will be televised by CBS.