With his eyes on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12), Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) pushes aside running back Leonard Fournette (7) during the second half of their season opener at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 11. Dallas plays at Washington Sunday and could end up either the No. 1 seed in the NFC or the No. 5 when the playoffs begin next weekend.

The Dallas Cowboys fully understand they may need to go on the road to live out their playoff dreams, likely starting with a wildcard match up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Tom Brady, who has never lost to the Cowboys in his career.

The Cowboys (12-4) are prepared and ready to become road warriors in hopes of reaching the Super Bowl for the first time in 27 seasons. Whatever it takes is the focus.

But the Cowboys are also heading into the final week of the season focused on doing whatever it takes in their power to make the journey a little easier by winning the NFC East title and hosting at least one a playoff game at AT&T Stadium. And that starts with continuing to build momentum with a three-game win streak beating Washington on Sunday and then hoping for a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles against the New York Giants.

Both games will start at 3:25 p.m.

A win over Washington and loss by the Eagles would give the Cowboys the NFC East title. It would be the first time a team went to back-to-back in the division since the Eagles in 2004. It would be the first time the Cowboys won back-to-back titles since 1995-1996.

“That’s the first step to to the ultimate goal,” linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. “If you can get a division championship, I mean that’s just that much more confidence and more momentum going into the playoffs. But we’ll do whatever we need to do. If we got to play on the freaking road, all four games, we’re gonna do that. So whatever happens, happens, we’re going to be ready to take care of business when that time comes. “But it’s just this week right now. We got to take care of the Commanders first.“

There’s actually more on the line than just the NFC East championship. If the San Francisco 49ers drop their season final against the Arizona Cardinals, then the Cowboys would also get home-field advantage as the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs.

Both scenarios are long shots as the Eagles face a Giants team which is locked into the sixth seed and is more concerned about healthy the playoffs than winning the final game of the season. Like the Eagles, the 49ers also have their sights set on the No. 1 seed, while the Cardinals are without starting quarterback Kyler Murray (gone with a season-ending knee injury), riding a six-game losing streak and looking to end the season.

Most of those things are out of the Cowboys control. All they can do is put themselves in the best position possible to take care of a favorable outcome by beating the Commanders. That’s have done the past two weeks with wins over the Eagles and Tennessee Titans to from three games back to one game back, thanks also to the Philadelphia dropping a second straight game to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

“As we head in to play the Commanders and we know that there is a lot at stake,” vice president Stephen Jones said. “Any given Sunday a team as we saw this week, you know, they got pro players and they pay their guys, too. So, we need to go out and play really good football and get ourselves even sharper and more consistent and win the game, try to go out and win this game, and see what happens.”

From the Tribune News Service.

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Sports editor

Mitch Lucas is the sports editor for the Kilgore News Herald, and has been since June 1, 2002.