As we head into Week 11, the playoff race is coming into focus. Some teams are already making personnel decisions with the expectation of making the playoffs, other teams are desperately trying to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Cowboys sit at home this week nursing their injuries and their wounded pride, so they'll stay at .500 for the week. But other teams will be playing, and the outcomes of those games may also have an impact on the Cowboys' post-season chances.
Here's an overview of how the NFC currently stacks up in the playoff race. The teams are sorted by their odds of making the playoffs, as calculated by Football Outsiders:
|Division Leaders||Wildcard||In the Hunt|
|Teams||Playoff Odds||Teams||Playoff Odds||Teams||Playoff Odds|
|Seattle (9-1)||99.8%||Carolina (6-3)||84.3%||Philadelphia (5-5)
|New Orleans(7-2)||88.6%||San Francisco (6-3)||64.8%||Chicago (5-4)
|Detroit (6-3)||74.2%||Green Bay (5-4)
|Dallas (5-5)||59.5%||Arizona (5-4)
The other key consideration in determining your rooting interest is the 2014 draft order. The table below shows what that draft order would look like as determined by the W/L ratio through Week 10 as well as the strength of schedule played through week 10, with the divisional tiebreaker thrown in where required.
|NFL Draft Order If the season were to end today
|Draft Spot||NFL Team||Wins||Losses||SOS through Wk 10||DIV Tiebreaker|
|9||Washington (to St. Louis)||3||6||.518|
|10||New York Giants||3||6||.571|
|Teams currently on pace to make the playoffs where elimination will determine the proper order|
|22||New York Jets||5||4||.482|
|26||Indianapolis (to Cleveland)||6||3||.494|
Some fans on our board don't give up on their playoff hopes until we're mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, other fans are already looking to optimize the Cowboys' draft position. Either way, our Week 11 Rooting Guide should have you covered:
Playoff Rooting Interests
- Redskins (3-6) over Eagles (5-5). As a matter of principle, the best result here would be if both teams lose. Barring that, we're rooting against the Eagles, as a loss would drop them to 2-3 in the division. The Cowboys are 3-0 in the division and with an Eagles loss this week and a Cowboys win over the Giants next week, the Cowboys would clinch the divisional tiebreaker over the Eagles.
- Patriots (7-2) over Panthers (6-3): With the Saints looking good for the division, the Panthers could end up competing for a wildcard against the Cowboys. As much as it pains Cowboys fans, we must root for Belichick's minions.
- Baltimore (4-5) over Chicago (5-4): Barring a division title, the Cowboys' route to the playoffs will be via a wildcard spot. The Bears are a direct competitor for that spot, so a loss here would help the Cowboys' chances.
- Jaguars (1-8) over Cardinals (5-4): The Cardinals are still in the running for a wildcard spot, so it would be good for Cowboys fans if the Jaguars helped the Cardinals fan base transition from playoff talk to draft talk.
2013 NFL Draft Rooting Interests
- Pittsburgh (3-6) over Lions (6-3). The Lions have the easiest remaining strength of schedule (.359) of any team in the NFL, so they look like favorites for the division crown. But Strength of Schedule helps to determine the draft order in the event of tie-breakers, so the weaker the Cowboys' schedule, the better their draft position. The Cowboys played the Lions this year so they count against the Cowboys' Strength of Schedule. We gladly root against that bunch of misfits in Detroit and their Chief Enabling Officer Jim Schwartz
- Giants (3-6) over Green Bay (5-4): The Packers are easy prey without Aaron Rodgers, and we root for the Giants to win just enough games to drop as far as possible in the draft order yet still remain out of playoff contention.
- 49ers (6-3) over Saints (7-2): This is a game that deserves two losers, as both teams figure into the Cowboys' playoff chances in one way or another, especially if the Cowboys harbor any farfetched wildcard hopes. However, the Saints figure into the Cowboys' Strength of Schedule, whereas the 49ers don't. A Saints win would strengthen Dallas' Strength of Schedule (and thus negatively affect their draft position), which is already the seventh highest through ten weeks. We grudgingly root for the 49ers as the lesser of two evils.
- Seattle (9-1) over Vikings (2-7): Nobody is going to stop the Seahawks from making the playoffs this year. The Cowboys have played the Vikings, so a Vikings loss would lower the Cowboys' Strength of Schedule.
- Buccaneers (1-8) over Falcons (2-7): This game has no impact on the Cowboys' playoff chances or on their draft stock, so it doesn't matter how this game ends. We just get a little more pleasure from watching the Falcons crash and burn than watching the Buccaneers further disintegrate.
- All AFC games: We'll leave it up to you who to root for here.
More from Blogging The Boys:
- Cowboys Coaches: Fighting For Their Lives
- Week 11 NFL Picks: Kansas City Chiefs Get No Respect
- At Least One Cowboys Play Worked Against The Saints
- Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Cowboys Focus On Health, 3rd Down Offense And Defense During Bye Week
- Problems For Cowboys Have Reached Tidal Wave Proportions