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Cowboys Playoff Scenarios: Still Possible, But Time Is Running Short

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After 11 games played, and a decidedly mediocre 5-6 record, the Cowboys still find themselves holding an outside shot at the 2012 playoffs.

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

It's hard to believe that the 2012 Dallas Cowboys still have an opportunity to get into the playoffs. At 5-6, they are on the outside looking in, but it's not an impossibility that could change. And with some favorable matchups this week, they could take a step towards making it a real possibility.

Of course, the first thing that must happen is for the Cowboys to win against the imploding Eagles. So, without cursing the team, let's look at what is happening elsewhere in the playoff race with the condition that Dallas does win. The current playoff picture without the four division leaders in the NFC.

Position Team Record Next Opponent
5 Green Bay 7-4 vs. Minnesota
6 Seattle 6-5 @ Chicago
7 Tampa Bay 6-5 @ Denver
8 Minnesota 6-5 @ Green Bay
9 Washington 5-6 vs. NY Giants
10 Dallas 5-6 vs. Philadelphia
11 New Orleans 5-6 @ Atlanta

For a few weeks now, we've been operating on the theory that winning the NFC East would be the easiest route to playoff glory. The Giants were stumbling and we thought we had an easy schedule in front of us, that is until Washington smoked our turkey on Thanksgiving. Winning the East is still a possibility if the Redskins beat the Giants this weekend. New York would be 7-5 and Dallas and Washington would be 6-6 (assuming that we win on Sunday). That's back to only one game out of first place.

But the wild card is also not out of the question. Right now, Green Bay leads the field at 7-4. For this thought experiment, let's give the Packers one of the wild card spots, and assume they beat the Vikings this week. In the fight for the other wild card spot, the Vikings would drop to 6-6 under that scenario. Seattle has to battle the Bears in Chicago, and face the possibility of suspension for their top two corners down the line. The Bears will be favored to drop the Seahawks to 6-6. Tampa Bay has to travel to Denver and face a good Broncos unit, Manning and Co. will be favored to make the Bucs 6-6. New Orleans goes on the road to Atlanta, a tight game but the Falcons will be favored to stop the Saints momentum and leave them at 5-7.

So, if the favorites win this weekend, Dallas will be in a tie for the last wild card spot. Yeah, that's a very rosy scenario, and there's no way you can count on Dallas winning any given weekend. But the fact remains, the Cowboys have a real shot if they can get on a roll and stack some wins on top of each other.