Dallas Cowboys: Playoff Scenarios, a little help goes a long way

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30: Dak Prescott /

The Dallas Cowboys will have a lot more control over their playoff hopes as the end of the season approaches. Here are some scenarios to look out for.

The Dallas Cowboys need to score a victory against every opponent they face for the rest of the season. That means winning four games in a row against some of the NFC’s best and worst. There are several other factors that impact whether or not Dallas even has an opportunity to make the playoffs as several teams are currently ahead of them in the playoff race.

The Dallas Cowboys may not have had a game on Sunday but their chances of making the playoffs were increased dramatically because several key teams took a loss. The Carolina Panthers were handed a loss by the New Orleans Saints (CAR 8-4/NO 9-3) which keeps them as the NFL’s best wildcard team by record but they have a pretty tough schedule remaining.

The Panthers will face the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings in Week 14, the Green Bay Packers (potentially with Aaron Rodgers) in Week 15, a get well game against the Buccaneers, but an end of season clash with the Atlanta Falcons. Another important loss the Cowboys needed came from another NFC South team, Atlanta.

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The Falcons lost to the Minnesota Vikings and that brings them back down to earth. The 7-5 Falcons are only one game ahead of Dallas and will get some stiff competition as the season winds down. Atlanta will have to face the dominant New Orleans Saints twice in the last four games of the season.

They will also need to take on the Panthers in an important Week 17 showdown. In the NFC North, the Vikings hold a dominant lead at 10-2 while the Detroit Lions just dropped their last game putting their record at 6-6.

The Lions will face the Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, and Green Bay Packers in their last four games which is a pretty manageable schedule, the main issue will be the health of their franchise quarterback, Matt Stafford.

One of the Lion’s main rivals, the Green Bay Packers inched a bit closer to wild card contention as they picked up a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Packers are really the Dallas Cowboys biggest rivals when it comes to this final wild-card position.

Aaron Rodgers will return in a week if the Packers are still viable playoff contenders, which they should be. The Packers will face the Cleveland Browns in Week 14, the Panthers in Week 15, Vikings in 16, and finish out against the Lions.

That is about the same degree of difficulty as the Dallas Cowboys final schedule. If Rodgers comes back it changes the whole dynamics of the playoff race. There is plenty of time for the NFL playoff picture to change entirely as there will be some tie-breakers that are inevitable.

The Dallas Cowboys will have a fairly favorable schedule heading down the stretch. In Week 14 they will take on the New York Giants, however, it is important that this team is not overlooked especially since they just fired their two biggest problems, general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo.

This will be a competitive game and Eli Manning could even return to his starting role. Then the Dallas Cowboys will take on the Oakland Raiders in Week 15, an interesting matchup between two incredibly young teams. After that, all bets are off as star running back Ezekiel Elliott will return.

The Week 16 contest between the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks will loom large as that will technically be the start of the playoffs for Dallas. Lose that game, and the season is likely over.

Finally, the Cowboys would take on the Philadelphia Eagles for the second time this season, which could be a fight for the division or a prelude to bigger things. If the Eagles lose then the Cowboys could win the division.

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Last night’s debacle against the Seahawks showed that the Eagles are human and that all of the injuries they have suffered are finally catching up to them. With games against the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, and Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles could start to slide.

This is all dependent on if the Cowboys win out however as they would need to be the final nail in their coffin. The Cowboys now have more control over their playoff destiny than ever before, they need to take advantage of this opportunity.