Cowboys: Better playoff odds than Saints, 49ers, Rams, Bucs, 20 others

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys are in much better position to make the playoffs than all but eight teams in the NFL

If I asked you before the season how you’d feel if the Cowboys were the ninth most likely team to make the playoffs after three games, you’d probably be feeling pretty good. Such a status would surely involve Dallas being 3-0, or at the very least, 2-1 entering week 4, right?

Well, you and I know that’s far from the case here with Dallas standing 1-2 and lucky to have that one win, if we’re being completely honest. Yet, despite the horrendous start, the Cowboys are in strong position to make the postseason according to the probability and analytics giant, Five Thirty Eight.

As Sport DFW writer Walter Sharp discussed earlier this morning, the Dallas Cowboys are in prime position to make the playoffs because of the division in which they play. Their 74% chance to make the postseason puts them ahead of the Saints, 49ers, Bucs, and 20 other teams in the NFL.

And with a 70% of winning their respective division, Dallas is ahead of everybody but one team in the NFL – the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s right, your Cowboys are the second most likely team to win their respective division this year.

For more on the NFC East situation and what lies ahead for Dallas, be sure to check out the article mentioned above and linked right below. It’s a great breakdown on the division.

light. Related Story. 4 Reasons the Cowboys win the NFC East

Is winning the NFC East enough for the Cowboys?

So what we must be asking ourselves is whether or not winning the division matters. I mean, if a bad team makes the playoffs with all the good teams, they’re still an outmatched bad team destined to lose.

Flashback to last season when Dallas faded down the stretch and it became a two-horse race with Philly. The winner of the final match-up would likely claim the division and the loser would be eliminated from contention.

Both teams were playing terrible football and the only question was which team was less terrible. I remember distinctly saying it was in the Cowboys best interests to lose-out because they’d given absolutely no reason to believe they could flip a switch in the playoffs. Many Eagles fans argued the same.

It turns out the Eagles were the less terrible team and it was the Eagles who limped into the postseason only to be knocked out in the first round (surprise surprise). As they boasted of the division title, the Dallas Cowboys sat back smiling at their draft position. It was that draft position that allowed the Cowboys to draft CeeDee Lamb, a player the Eagles desperately coveted but couldn’t have – all because the Eagles won a terrible division.

So is the NFC East a hollow victory for the Cowboys?

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Last year the answer was most certainly “yes, it was hollow.” This year, I’m not so sure. Dallas already has what appears to be an elite offense – regardless of the quality of opponent. The defense is a mess but is expected to improve as they settle into the new system and get injured players back. They are a work in progress and even now they look better than that 1-2 record otherwise indicates.

Now if we roll into Week 15 as .500 team still trying to work out the same issues, that’s a different story. But there’s plenty of time to start stacking wins and look more like a good team than just the least terrible.

Historically, the odds are against you if you can’t secure that first round bye, and under the new playoff format, the Cowboys only have a 2 percent chance at getting that. But that doesn’t mean the season’s over in Week 4 or that Dallas can’t become better down the stretch.

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Chances are good the Cowboys will make the postseason but we need them to be more than participants. We need them to become contenders. And there’s plenty of time to do that.

  • Published on 09/30/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 09/30/2020 at 11:45 AM