Well, this is where we are now.
Deep down we've known that the Dallas Cowboys have been playing for nothing more than draft position for a couple months now, but it became extra official on Tuesday night. Dallas now sits two full games behind both the Giants and Washington, and they've shown no signs of a late season comeback.
At 3-9 the Cowboys have the worst record in the NFC, and the fourth worst overall record in all of football. They are on their road to a top five pick, but this week's game will be massive in determining which slot they end up drafting in next Spring.
Cincinnati is sitting at 2-9-1, one spot ahead of the Cowboys in the draft order with four games to play. With a win on Sunday they'd move to 3-9-1, allowing the Cowboys to move ahead of them in the draft order. This would give the Cowboys the inside track to the 3rd overall pick, and potentially the chance to trade out with a quarterback needy team.
The 2021 NFL Draft order as of Week 14:
1. Jets: 0-12
2. Jaguars: 1-11
3. Bengals: 2-9-1
4. Cowboys: 3-9
5. Chargers: 3-9
6. Eagles: 3-8-1
7. Panthers: 4-8
8. Falcons: 4-8
9. Dolphins (Via Texans): 8-4
10. Broncos: 4-8
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 9, 2020
It would really behoove the Cowboys to lose this one on Sunday, but even as bad as they've looked it may be hard for them to do so. The Bengals are missing their highly touted starting quarterback as well, and have looked downright dreadful for many games this season. Their offense is 26th in EPA/play and their defense is 25th in EPA/allowed.
But wait…those are both better than where the Cowboys rank! So who knows.
Sunday's game is going to be bad. There's no way around it. But it will have a major impact on where the Cowboys land in the 2021 NFL Draft.