By virtue of the New York Giants' loss at Philadelphia on Thursday night, the Dallas Cowboys have clinched the NFC's No. 1 overall seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs ... with two games to go.
Dallas has been here before. In the 2007-08 season, the 13-3 Wade Phillips-coached Cowboys had locked up the top seed and decided to rest some players, including Tony Romo and other staters, in the second half of their inconsequential (as far as the seedings) Week 17 home game against Redskins. It ended in a 27-6 home loss for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys then followed that up with a 21-17 loss in their playoff opener to the Giants in Dallas. It was a brutal blow for the team, and it appears the Cowboys brass aren't going to risk a similar thing happening this season.
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Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has said the team in playing to win against the Lions in Week 16 on Monday night, and owner Jerry Jones addressed the bigger picture during an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Friday. Transcript courtesy of The Star-Telegram:
"It's an age old question and certainly deserves to be a question," Jones said. "How much do you want to be playing well? How much edge do you want to have? I know that in our season here with Wade Phillips. We had a great season and then we turned around and got into the playoffs and rested pretty good the last ball game.
"And we ended up losing the first playoff game that we had with home-field bye all the way through. That's going to bear heavily our experience there with Wade in '07 will weigh heavily on any thoughts I have about who plays."
It's a good "problem" to have, but a dilemma nevertheless.
You may also recall that Tony Romo and Jason Witten took a much-scrutinized trip to Cabo San Lucas with Romo's then-girlfriend Jessica Simpson during the bye week that year before their Divisional Round loss to the Giants. We can probably be sure that Cowboys won't be jet-setting in early January.