Cowboys Playoff Scenarios: How Dallas Makes Postseason

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The Cowboys likely to need to win their final three games to make the NFL playoffs.

The Dallas Cowboys are still holding onto their postseason hopes, but likely need to win out to have a realistic chance of making the postseason. Based on the strength of the NFC, it is hard to imagine a team making the playoffs with less than 10 wins. Dallas enters Week 15 at 7-6 which explains why they need to win their next three matchups. If the Cowboys lose to the Raiders and the Falcons win on Monday night, the Cowboys would be eliminated from playoff contention.

Dallas is out of the running for the NFC East division as the Eagles have already clinched the title. The Cowboys are fighting for one of the two NFC Wild Card spots, but face an uphill battle with two of their remaining three games on the road. The Cowboys head to Oakland to take on the Raiders in Week 15. Dallas hosts Seattle in Week 16 which is the biggest remaining game on the Cowboys schedule given the Seahawks are also fighting for a postseason birth. Finally, the Cowboys head to Philly on New Year’s Eve to close out the season against the NFC East champs.

Even if the Cowboys win all three games, it does not guarantee Dallas would make the playoffs. Here’s a look at how the NFL explains the tiebreaker process if the Cowboys are tied with another team (outside the division) for a Wild Card spot.

1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
4. Strength of victory.
5. Strength of schedule.
6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best net points in conference games.
9. Best net points in all games.
10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
11. Coin toss.

Heavy’s NFC projections have the Cowboys narrowly claiming the final NFC spot. This is based in large part on projecting the Cowboys to defeat the Seahawks, and claim the spot by virtue of tiebreakers. Based on our projections, the Cowboys would be fighting with the Panthers, Saints, Seahawks and Lions for the final two spots.

Here’s a look at the current NFC standings. The first six teams would make the playoffs, and the Eagles have already won the NFC East. The Vikings have clinched the NFC North division title.


NFC Standings

TEAM W L
1. Philadelphia Eagles 12 2
2. Minnesota Vikings 11 3
3. L.A. Rams 10 4
4. New Orleans Saints 10 4
5. Carolina Panthers 10 4
6. Atlanta Falcons 8 5
7. Detroit Lions 8 6
8. Seattle Seahawks 8 6
9. Dallas Cowboys 8 6
10. Green Bay Packers 7 7
11. Arizona Cardinals 6 8
12. Washington Redskins 6 8
13. Tampa Bay Bucs 4 9
14. Chicago Bears 4 10
15. San Francisco 49ers 4 10
16. N.Y. Giants 2 12

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