I've posted a couple of playoff scenario FanPosts recently the last couple of weeks. Since the week is now officially over, I thought I would take a look at where we are now. Unfortunately, not much has changed. The extreme high I was on after watching the Cowboys comeback against the Bengals dissipated somewhat later that day as the Redskins pulled off an incredible comeback and the Giants smoked the Saints. Over in the wildcard, the only good news was that the Chicago Bears might just be collapsing, something I didn't think was possible in my earlier posts. The bad news there is that they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over us. So, here are the updated standings for playoff positioning relevant to the Cowboys:
Seahawks: They look to have a strong hold on a wild card spot. They have 2 home games remaining, where they are practically unbeatable, though one of those is against the 49ers. They also play Buffalo and St. Louis. So go ahead and pencil them in.
Bears: This was the lone bright spot of the weekend. With Seattle pulling away, all hopes at a wild card appeared to be dim. But, the Bears are suddenly very vulnerable, having lost 4 of their last 5. They play the Packers this weekend, so they very well could fall to 8-6. They play the Cardinals, which should be a win, and then the Lions to end the season. The Lions game will be in Detroit. That might not be so easy for the Bears. They are looking at a 9-7 record.
Redskins, Vikings, and Rams: The Redskins don't really factor into the wild card scenario for us, as the division would be at stake (possibly). The Vikings have tough games against the Rams, Texans, and the Packers. They will be lucky to finish 8-8. The Rams play the Vikings, Bucs, and the Seahawks. I'm not worried about the Rams, because either they win the wild card at 9-6-1 or are left out at 8-7-1 (the tie did them no favors).
The following scenarios deal with the assumption that the wild card spot will involve 9-7 teams. If Dallas wins out and finished 10-6, and the Giants finish 11-5 to win the division, the Cowboys can get in if the Bears finish 9-7. Otherwise, the Packers would need to collapse and finish 10-6 and the Bears 11-5. Cowboys hold the tiebreaker over GB but not the Bears.
Wild card scenarios
Bears, Cowboys, Redskins finish 9-7
Having ruled out the Seahawks, every scenario deals with the Bears finishing 9-7. For this scenario, I will give the Giants the division at 10-6. We finish 9-7, having beaten the Steelers/Saints and the Redskins (we always need to beat the Redskins in any scenario). The Redskins also finish 9-7. In this scenario where it's us, the Bears, and the Redskins finishing 9-7, the Bears get the wild card. The Redskins are eliminated for finishing behind us in the division and the Bears eliminate us due to the head-to-head.
Bears, Bucs, Cowboys, Redskins finish 9-7
For this scenario, the Bucs pull out a miracle and beat the Saints, Rams, and Falcons and finish 9-7 (I can't believe they lost to the Eagles. Ugh.) Again, the Redskins are eliminated for finishing 3rd in the division. The tiebreaker for the Bears, Bucs, and Cowboys actually goes all the way to the strength of victory tiebreaker, which the Cowboys win!
Bears, Bucs, Vikings, Cowboys, Redskins finish 9-7
I don't think the Vikings will reach 9-7, but let's say they do. Not good. The Redskins and Bears are eliminated for finishing 3rd in their divsions. The Vikings beat us and the Bucs in two different ways, assuming our loss is to the Saints. If the Vikings beat the Rams and the Packers and lose to the Texans, they beat us based on best conference win record. If they swap that Texans loss with a loss against the Rams/Packers, they beat us based on strength of victory. Not all hope is lost, though. If the Vikings do lose to the Rams or Packers, and we lose to the Steelers but beat the Saints, then we own the best conference record and win the tiebreak! So lets root for a win against the Saints and Vikings loss against Rams or Packers!
Bears, Vikings, Cowboys, Redskins finish 9-7
Ditto the scenario above, just take out the Bucs. We have a possible tiebreak over the Vikings if the conference win record scenario plays out.
Bottom line is, we need the Bears to lose 2 of their last 3. And we need the Bucs to win out. Or the Vikings to finish 2-1 with a loss against the Rams or Bucs. We can't finish with just the Bears, they hold the tiebreak over us.
Basically, the Giants need to lose at least one game, which has a very good chance of happening. 2 losses would be preferable, otherwise the Cowboys would have to win out and finish 10-6. The Giants did themselves no favors with their poor division record. The best they can finish is 3-3 in the division. The Redskins can finish anywhere from 5-1 to 3-3, based on games left against the Eagles and Cowboys. The Cowboys can win the division at 10-6 or 9-7, as long as they beat the Redskins in Week 17, no matter what record the Redskins have. If both finish 9-7, the Cowboys win the tiebreak based on the win record from common games. (Common games are tied right not, but the Cowboys need to beat the Steelers/Saints and Redskins, giving us one up in common games, as all 3 are common opponents)