There will be no place to hide this coming Sunday night. One team will hold its nerve; the other will look upon the season as a disappointment having come so far.
The NFC East has once again come down to the final game. Indeed, it the final game and puts an end to another dramatic National Football League regular season.
Last year you may recall that Dallas Cowboys stumbled their way through the final month to end up losing out to the New York Giants, in a winner-takes-all match. This season they have been the hunters, not the hunted, and have the chance to prove all doubters wrong.
The Washington Redskins (9-6) host the Cowboys (8-7), in a game that will decide the division and who goes into the postseason as number four seed in the National Football Conference. Advancing to host either the free-scoring Seattle Seahawks, or the see-sawing an Francisco 49ers.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. There is after all the renewing of arguably the most fierce rivalry in the NFL. The history books show that the Cowboys have a large lead in the overall series between the two (61-42-2), however the team from the nation’s capital hold a 2-0 series edge in playoff games. This may not be classed as a postseason match, but it is in all but name. A real winner-takes-all battle.
The Redskins are on a real tear at the moment and from a 3-6 start, they have won six straight and stepped up as a real threat to anyone. They are young, brash, and full of confidence that winning games brings. The positive approach put upon the team stems from the top. Head Coach Mike Shanahan has been there and done it all with his previous employers the Denver Broncos. The way things are playing out he could well find himself back in the Super Bowl against his former team.
You would have to favor the Redskins in this match. The win streak, home field advantage, and that confident swagger. The team is talented and primed for a run deep into the playoffs should they get there. They have already beaten Dallas convincingly back on Thanksgiving Day 38-31 so will take confidence from that too.
They will also be mindful of that game, and how it was almost a case of one that got away.
The Thanksgiving game, was one of many this season that has seen the Cowboys fall behind by a large double digit score, in that game it was as much as 28-3 at half time. An unfortunate trend the Cowboys set themselves. Fall behind quickly, force a dramatic comeback, then win the game in further drama filled circumstances, or just fall short.
The fans and followers of the Cowboys have certainly had their nerves shredded this season. And even though when they fall behind they fans stick with them as they see the team comeback in a gutsy display of grit and determination. You certainly get your moneys worth when seeing a Cowboys game this year.
This Sunday night in front of a National television audience will be no different.
The Redskins fans will be at their most vocal, probably ever, whenever the Cowboys take the field, and as raucous and celebratory when they see their team score. This will be nothing new to a Dallas team, that even though they carry the moniker of Americas Team, they are also probably the team that the rest of NFL fans want to see lose. The neutrals then, will more than likely be on the side of Washington.
This is already building up to be a classic, the playoffs a week early, a game for the history books. A match that a fan of either side will look back on as a possible turning point for each franchise.
For once i really believe that all the hype this week will be justified.