Cowboys at Redskins -- Week 17 

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md. (turf, outdoors)

When: Sunday, Dec. 30, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

Spread: Redskins by 3

Forecast: Temperatures in low 30s

Records: Cowboys (8-7; NFC East 3-2); Redskins (9-6; NFC East 4-1)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Nov. 22, 2012: Redskins 38, Cowboys 31; Nov. 20, 2011: Cowboys 27-24 (OT). Series record: Cowboys lead series 62-41-2

What matters: Making the playoffs is the only thing that matters here. The previous 15 games of the regular season have come down to one game for the Cowboys. If they win, they’re in the playoffs as the NFC East champions, based off the third tiebreaker rule. A win by Dallas puts both teams at 9-7, with a season split against each other, and both teams would be 4-2 in division games. The next tiebreaker is common opponents and the Cowboys would be 5-3; the Redskins are 4-4 in those games.

Who matters: Everyone matters at this point in the season, but for the Cowboys, one player who is playing head and shoulders above the rest is Dez Bryant. In the last seven games, Bryant has 10 touchdown catches, including two more last week to go along with a career-high 224 receiving yards. Even with a fractured left index finger, Bryant has been phenomenal of late. And in the last meeting with the Redskins, he had eight catches for 145 yards and two scores.

Key matchups: They’ll be the first two guys to say they aren’t playing against each other. But Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo will be squaring off in this showdown with the season on the line. No, RG3 and Romo won’t even be on the field at the same time, but it’s definitely a game that will come down to quarterback play. The Cowboys and Redskins have both shown the ability to rally in the fourth quarter, but this seems to be a game where getting off to a good start is vital. Which quarterback can come out hot will be a huge telling point for his teammates.

Injuries of note: Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan all but laughed at a reporter who asked if DeMarcus Ware would be playing at 100 percent strength on Sunday. “Not even close," he said. Ware is battling elbow, neck and shoulder injuries and hasn’t practiced all week but is likely to play. His backup, Victor Butler, is dealing with a groin injury but has practiced the last two weeks.

Inside stuff: The Cowboys are hoping for better offensive continuity this time around against the Redskins, and having more pieces to the puzzle should help. In the first game against Washington back on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys were without running back DeMarco Murray, left tackle Tyron Smith, center Ryan Cook, wide receiver Kevin Ogletree -- and wide receiver Miles Austin missed all but two series before suffering a hip injury. The Cowboys rallied for 28 second-half points, but not before trailing 28-3 at halftime. They lost by a touchdown.

Stat you should know: Since Tony Romo took over as the starting quarterback in 2006, the Cowboys are just 1-5 in elimination games, including two in the season finales with a playoff berth at stake. Last season, the Cowboys were also 8-7 and facing the Giants on the road, but lost 31-14 and missed the playoffs, while New York made a run to the Super Bowl. In 2008, the Cowboys were 9-6 and needed to beat Philly on the road to claim a Wild Card spot but lost 44-6. Romo is also 1-3 in career playoff games.

Milestone in reach: TE Jason Witten surpassed Tony Gonzalez (102) last week for the NFC single-season record for catches in a year by a tight end. Witten, who has 103 catches this year, can now look to surpass the Cowboys’ single-season receptions record by any player, currently held by Michael Irvin (111).

Looking ahead: The season is likely on the line for both teams, but definitely for the Cowboys. It’s win or go home for good this Sunday night in Washington. If they win, the Cowboys will win the NFC East and claim the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. The Cowboys would play at home against the top Wild Card team, which is currently Seattle.

Prediction: Cowboys 30, Redskins 26

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