As the only Washington Redskins player born and bred in the nation's capital, Joshua Morgan went up against the Dallas Cowboys many times in his imagination long before he did so in the NFL.

"I was either Art Monk beating the Cowboys," Morgan said. "Or it was Jerry Rice in the Super Bowl."

Redskins fans will forgive the Rice fantasy for now. The part about beating the Cowboys? It's rarely been more urgent.

The NFC East rivals have met 105 times over 52 years. Some have been classics. Some have been duds. Twice they've met in the NFC championship game. Eight times they've met to end the regular season, including a 1961 Washington victory that kept the Redskins from going winless and the last NFL game at RFK Stadium in 1996.

Only once have they met in the final week with playoff implications for both teams. Dallas beat Washington 35-34 on Dec. 16, 1979, rallying from 13 points down in the fourth quarter with two touchdown passes from Roger Staubach. The Cowboys finished 11-5 and won the NFC East. The Redskins dropped to 10-6 and stayed home.

The Cowboys have to win to return to the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Redskins, absent from the playoffs since 2007, could lose and still get a wild-card berth, but only if both the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings lose earlier in the day. The NFL, knowing a good finish when it sees it, flexed the game to primetime.

  • Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware will wear a brace on his injured right shoulder to help prevent the shoulder from popping out when Ware extends his arm forward. Ware also will continue to wear a brace on his right arm that provides support for his hyperextended right elbow. His playing time is expected to be limited.

    Saints: The team confirmed that coach Sean Payton has agreed in principle to a multiyear contract extension. Payton was suspended for the 2012 season in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation.