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Week 16 Dallas Cowboys & NFC Playoff Clinching Odds

The Cowboys, like the other NFC playoff contenders, have a chance to clinch a playoff spot this weekend. We review what those odds are for the Cowboys and the other contenders this week.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few weeks, we've repeatedly looked at the Cowboys' odds of making the playoffs, and we've looked at a number of different sources in the process, like Football Outsiders, FiveThirtyEight, Sportsclubstats and NFL-Forecast.

Today, we're extending our scope and adding another source. is familiar to those of you who read far enough down our weekly power rankings summary. For everybody else: Numberfire base their algorithms on an Expected Points Per Play model, and extrapolate team and player performance data from there.

Using that data, they calculate each team's chances of winning every remaining game on its schedule. They then simulate the NFL season thousands of times to determine playoff odds.

Right now, their model shows the Cowboys with an 80% of making the playoffs, and a 68.1% chance of winning the NFC East. That number is one that's fairly close to values the other sources quoted above show, so reviewing that wouldn't be all that much fun.

But Numberfire have added a twist to their projections by calculating the odds of the Cowboys clinching a playoff spot this week, not in two weeks. Unfortunately, the odds after 15 games aren't as favorable as the odds after 16 games. And the reason for that is that there are only two scenarios in which the Cowboys clinch a playoff spot, anf neither scenario carries a high probability.

Scenario 1: Cowboys win or tie + Eagles loss

In this scenario, the Cowboys would win the NFC East and qualify for the playoffs as the division champion. Numberfire doesn't think the combo of a Cowboys win and an Eagles loss is entirely out of the question, and give the Cowboys an 18.7% chance of winning the NFC East this weekend.

Scenario 2: Cowboys win + GB loss or tie + DET loss or tie (as long as both don't tie)

This scenario clinches a playoff spot for the Cowboys as a wildcard team. Numberfire doesn't think that three-game combo is particularly likely either, and give this particular scenario an 8.5% probability of happening.

Combined, the two scenarios give the Cowboys a 27.2% chance of clinching a playoff spot this weekend, either as a division winner or with a wildcard.

Here's how those odds compare to the other playoff contenders this weekend:

27.2% DALLAS COWBOYS (vs. Indianapolis)
18.7% DAL win or tie + PHI loss
8.5% DAL win + GB loss or tie + DET loss or tie as long as both don't tie
72.8% DETROIT LIONS (at Chicago)
61.7% DET win
11.1% PHI loss
72.7% SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (at Arizona)
24.8% SEA win + DET loss or tie
22.6% SEA win + GB loss or tie
18.8% SEA win + PHI loss or tie
6.5% PHI loss + DAL win or tie
66.4% GREEN BAY PACKERS (at Tampa Bay)
41.0% GB win + DAL win or tie
18.9% GB win + PHI loss or tie
6.5% PHI loss + DAL win or tie
26.1% NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (vs. Atlanta)
26.1% NO win + CAR loss

27.2% for the Cowboys translates into about a one-in-four chance of making the playoffs this weekend. How do you like those odds?

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