DALLAS — The second-most consequential game for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday could be one that they may not see at all.
The Philadelphia Eagles host Washington on Sunday Night Football at Lincoln Financial Field.
If Dallas beats the New York Giants on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. CT at MetLife Stadium, an Eagles win over Washington punches the Cowboys’ ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2018.
The Cowboys vs. Giants game will conclude at about 3:30 p.m. CT. Going with a conservative estimate of one hour to shower and conduct postgame interviews and then 30 minutes to travel from East Rutherford, N.J., to Newark International Airport, the Cowboys wouldn’t be ready to depart until 5:00 p.m. CT.
Factor in another 30 minutes to ensure all cargo is stowed and seats and tray tables are in upright positions, it could be 5:30 p.m. CT when the Cowboys take flight.
Kickoff for Philadelphia at Washington is at 7:20 p.m. CT.
Going with a round figure of two hours, 30 minutes, the Cowboys would land at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport about 8:00 p.m. CT, early in the second quarter. Coach Mike McCarthy is going with a later estimate.
“The game will start while we are in flight,” McCarthy said. “We will get back somewhere at halftime or in the third quarter. I am sure everyone has their individual plan. I am sure I will get home in time to watch the end of the game.”
For the first quarter of the NFC East showdown in Game 256, the last of the regular season, running back Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t believe they will be able to see any footage from the game.
“We’ll have to wait and see when we land getting back from New York if we made the playoffs,” Elliott said. “I think we do have Wi-Fi on the plane so we’ll probably be able to watch the little Scorecard or whatever but I don’t think we’re going to be able to watch the game so we’re just going to have to wait and see.”
According to quarterback Andy Dalton, the Wi-Fi on the team charter “works pretty well.”
“We’ll try to follow as much as we can on the plane ride,” Dalton said. “Then, we’ll be able to catch the end of it once we get home.”
For owner Jerry Jones, the concept of taking care of business first and then seeing if there is help along the way is reminiscent of 1995. In Week 17, the Cowboys played the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.
It wasn’t until they left on the team charter in Arizona that they learned the San Francisco 49ers, who had the tiebreaker over Dallas, lost to the Atlanta Falcons. A win over the Cardinals would capture home-field advantage for the Cowboys which Dallas parlayed into their last Super Bowl victory of the storied decade.
“That was we were just totally dependent on the other team winning,” Jones told 105.3 “The Fan'' Tuesday. “That's just part of it. And somebody's gotta win those games. Boy, I'll take it any way you can give it. And if somebody has to do some of the heavy lifting for you there at the end, that's why we've got it set up the way we've got it set up.”
Dallas knows they have to first beat the Giants, who also can win the division with a victory and a Washington loss themselves.
Center Joe Looney knows that a victory is the first priority, and then the waiting game between Philadelphia and Washington begins on the flight home.
“If we get that win, the first thing I’m thinking is get in that locker room, celebrate with my guys, high-fiving, getting on the plane, enjoying the plane ride home and then we’ll see where those chips fall when they land,” Looney said.
Do you think the Cowboys will be able to make scoreboard watching matter against the Giants in Week 17? Share your predictions with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.