Wildly different, but in both cases supremely competent and high ranking Generals, Manstein, Guderian, and on the Soviet side Zhukov said Moscow would have likely fallen had Hitler not chosen differently. A sustained drive on Moscow would have had great chances for success if carried on as the primary goal.
Hitler's decision to halt the drive gave the Soviet reserves time to strengthen the defenses of Moscow, that's only logic. He then compounding the error by dividing forces when it resumed in October. The delay allowed the fall rains to turn roads into quagmires. Thus slowed down supplies and the drive. The arrival of cold weather helped seal its fate, although I agree was less of a factor than what popular wisdom holds.
The combination of all this spelled doom for the German drive on Moscow. Consequently it was the point Germany lost the war, in the East. It's largely Hitler's fault.
The deciding factor for me was the the interview with Zhukov.
Zhukov was there, he was on the Soviet side. You (all) were not there. Guderian was there, he said it would have fallen..you were not. He was on the axis side. They were both high ranking generals and they knew what was going on.
Zhukov expressed great uncertainty Moscow could have been saved had Hitler concentrated forces. Mind you that's in the real life time line after the late October start. I'm arguing for the drive earlier in fine weather while the Soviets were still in disarray. Smolensk slowed down the drive, in doing so it also further weakened the Soviet armies. The thing to do was to redouble the efforts where the SU was hurt not divert forces away. The right thing to do was as Mainstein said move available divisions to AGC from nearby AGN and immediately resume the drive. I would guess it could have resumed by early September. That's 6 weeks of fine weather and the same amount of time for Moscow to lose in preparation for its defense (and 6 weeks of uninterrupted factory production in Moscow) . After its fall, possibly, there still might have been time to wheel some of AGC back towards Kiev and destroy Budennys army...Im just musing here.
My mind is made up and shall not be changed on this. I realize, unlike some of you I can admit, I may be wrong. However I've presented sufficient evidence. Jldaw take a loss on this one. History proves my argument correct, it was their best chance.
Finally Moscow was more than just a capital. Ignoring the facts over and over doesn't make them go away. The facts are:
1. Moscow was the largest population center in the USSR. Population produces divisions....obviously the most important requirement.
2. Moscow was the largest rail hub and paved highway center in the USSR. An old Russian saying "all roads lead to Moscow" isn't just poetry, it was almost literal.
3. It was the administrative center of the USSR. I don't care they would move it East as it wouldn't have been as efficient if they had. Stalin didn't leave Moscow because he thought he was safe. More than likely because his generals told him Hitler waited too long!
4. It was a major industrial center. It's factories didn't even start moving East until mid October.
5. It was the aviation heart of the SU. Recall something like 70% of all aircraft were produced in Moscow in all of the SU (prewar).
6. It was the cultural heart of the SU.
Even today Great Britain only targets Moscow as a nuclear weapons deterrent. That's been its policy for decades. Partly that's because it's nuclear force is restricted, mostly it's because they understand (apparently better than that of Hitler did) how essential and unique Moscow is to the USSR/Russia.
Yes, I'm rehashing everything. Call this my final argument. I'm really done this time, I promise.