It certainly wasn’t the way they envisioned it going, but ultimately Week 15 ended with a predictable result for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas was one of three NFC teams that could have snagged their ticket to the playoffs with a win. On Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers joined the Philadelphia Eagles in the dance. On Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings joined in the festivities. At about 2:00 PM on Sunday, all signs appeared that the Cowboys had wrapped up the Big Four contenders.
It wasn’t meant to be, like Dallas Blew 27-10 lead in the third quarterRecently Falling at the Jacksonville Jaguars, 40-34, in overtime. Dallas still entered the week with five different scenarios. Thanks to other scores, they ended up needing a fifth, but that finally happened when the New York Giants knocked out reigning Washington on Sunday Night Football. This victory ensured that the Cowboys would have one of the three best records in the NFC among non-division winners, sealing their spot in the playoffs.
Image of the current NFC match
Philadelphia Eagles (13-1)
Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)
Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
New York Giants (8-5-1)
Washington Leaders (7-6-1)
In Search of Wild Card:
Seattle Seahawks (7-7)
Detroit Lions (7-7)
Packers Green Bay (5-8)
In search of the #4 seed:
Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans (5-9)
consecutive playoff appearances
Things are looking solemn after the way Dallas lost, which somehow ended up in overtime. They hung and appeared on their way to winning the game when a third pass to Noah Brown ricocheted off his chest and into the arms of a Jaguars defender who returned it 52 yards for the winning score.
Yet the Cowboys are sitting at 10-4 on the season. After finishing 12-5 last season, this is the first time the club has won matches in double digits since 1995 and 1996. With the playoff spot booked, this is the first time they have made the playoffs in a back-to-back game. Seasons since Tony Romo’s first two years as a starter, 2006 and 2007.
And that’s worth celebrating, no matter how disarray the team and their fanbase feel after Sunday’s loss.
The chances of the top seed are almost over
There is disappointment, of course. Dallas entered the four-game winning streak for the second time this season. It appears they were on a collision course with the Eagles, who were in their dogfight in Chicago during the same time period.
At the time, the Cowboys were two games behind, and Saturday’s game was an opportunity to close the gap. But for now, it’s just a game about building momentum and earning bragging rights after Philadelphia’s win earlier in the season when the team was under QB Cooper Rush.
To be the top seed in NFC Dallas, you’ll need to win and get assists.
The Eagles would need to lose their remaining two games (after Week 16) both at home, against the Saints and then the Giants for Dallas to win the NFC East based on divisional record.
The Minnesota Vikings would also have to lose at least one of their last three games to finish 13-4 and lose the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The San Francisco 49ers would also have to lose one of their last three games to finish 12-5 or worse.
These are the longest bullets. According to prediction website FiveThirtyEight, there is only a 0.5% chance of this happening.
Most likely the five seeds
Just as it’s likely the case Dallas didn’t get the top seed, there would have to be an epic collapse for them not to end up with the best wild card seed, No. 5.
The No. 5 seed will compete against the winner of the NFC South, who is currently expected to have a losing record. Right now, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are scheduled to host the wild card round game, but they have a 6-8 record with three to play.
Four teams are still eligible to reach the wild card round and the current ten-win Dallas game. The Cowboys own the tiebreakers over both the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks, but they could be caught by either opponent if they’re not careful.
By virtue of a tie in Week 13, if the Giants or the Chiefs end up with the same amount of wins as Dallas, they’ll have the higher seed. This is the case for both the 10-win and the 11-win season, meaning the Cowboys cannot enter the playoffs without trying to win additional games.