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For Playoff Assistance, Cowboys Following Two Games Today

After yesterday's rousing 31-15 victory over Tampa Bay and it's semi-pro effort, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves sitting at 8-6 with a temporary half-game lead over the New York Giants in the race for NFC East supremacy. Quarterback Tony Romo continued to make his claim to being the best of the rest; the top quarterback not named Rodgers-Brees-Brady. His 133.9 QB rating yesterday was augmented by his first rushing touchdown since Week 2 of the 2009 season. He is now the only QB other than Aaron Rodgers to reach 30 total touchdowns on the season without having double-digit interceptions (Romo has 9).

The defense held the Bucs to 55 first half yards and only 190 for the game, despite playing the entire second half with DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff sitting out to rest nagging shoulder and rib injuries respectively. After the total team effort, the Cowboys can now sit back and watch some football like the rest of us do; hoping to get some assistance from the opponents of playoff-position enemies.

The New York Giants host NFC East bottom-dwelling Washington, as the Redskins have lost eight of their past nine games. The team was uber-competitive last week against the Patriots, giving their loyal and temporary fans some hope that the offense can exploit a Giants defense not much better than New England's.

If the Giants manage to lose their next two (pseudo-road game against the Jets) and Dallas can exact revenge against Philly, the Week 17 matchup between the clubs will be rendered moot. If they only lose one, or none, then the Cowboys have to defeat the Eagles due to tiebreaker rules. Either way, Dallas controls it's own NFC East destiny.

As for a Wild Card chance if the Cowboys end up 9-7, there are a myriad of scenarios and teams still mathematically alive. For the Cowboys, though, nothing matters unless the Detroit Lions lose all of their remaining games starting with today against the Oakland Raiders. Well, there's a chance that Detroit and Chicago end up tied for second place in the North and Chicago wins that first elimination (intra-division) and then the Cowboys have those tiebreakers over the Bears. Playoff tiebreakers are convoluted to say the least.

Regardless, there are two main games of focus for the Cowboys to watch today. The early Giants-Redskins tilt, followed by the late kickoff of Detroit at Oakland. For a bonus, the Cowboys could use a Jets victory over the Eagles to officially end Philly's distant chances and crush their spirits.

For more coverage of the Cowboys, head on over to Blogging The Boys, SB Nation's Dallas Cowboys blog.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.